TORONTO FC ANNOUNCE 2022 MLS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
Toronto FC’s complete 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season schedule was released today by MLS ahead of the 27th season.
In TFC’s 16th season, the home opener is set for Saturday, March 5, at 2:00 pm ET at BMO Field against the New York Red Bulls. The club kicks off the season on Saturday, February 26 at 5:30 p.m. ET when the Reds face FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium.
During the 2022 season, Toronto FC will play 34 regular season matches (17 home and 17 away), facing Eastern Conference opponents twice, and playing eight games against non-conference teams (FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes, Nashville SC, Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy). The Reds will play 23 matches on Saturdays, five on both Sundays and Wednesdays, and one on a Friday. At BMO Field, Toronto FC will play 12 matches on Saturdays, three on Wednesdays and one on both a Friday and a Sunday. All of TFC’s regular season MLS matches will be televised across Canada on TSN.
The 2022 MLS Regular Season Schedule can be found below or visit mlssoccer.com.
Toronto FC announced today the following roster moves to conclude the 2021 MLS season. A total of 15 players are currently under contract for 2022.
Toronto FC has exercised the contract options on goalkeeper Quentin Westberg; defender Auro Jr; midfielders Jonathan Osorio, Noble Okello and forwards Jacob Shaffelburg and Ifunanyachi Achara.
Toronto FC has not exercised options on goalkeeper Kevin Silva; defenders Omar Gonzalez, Eriq Zavaleta, Rocco Romeo, and forward Patrick Mullins.
Defender Julian Dunn; midfielders Liam Fraser, Nick DeLeon, Tsubasa Endoh and forwards Erickson Gallardo and Ayo Akinola will be out of contract at the end of the year.
Fifteen players remain under contract for the 2022 season. They are: goalkeeper Alex Bono; defenders Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea, Kemar Lawrence, Luke Singh; midfielders Michael Bradley, Yeferson Soteldo, Mark Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso and forwards Jozy Altidore, Dom Dwyer, Jordan Perruzza, Jayden Nelson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty.
Defender Justin Morrow announced his retirement in September 2021.
Toronto FC’s 2022 roster as it currently stands:
Goalkeepers (2): Alex Bono, Quentin Westberg
Defenders (5): Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Luke Singh and Kemar Lawrence, Auro Jr.
Midfielders (7): Michael Bradley, Mark Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Noble Okello, Ralph Priso, Yeferson Soteldo, Alejandro Pozuelo
Forwards (7): Jozy Altidore, Dom Dwyer, Jordan Perruzza, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jayden Nelson, Ifunanyachi Achara and Jacob Shaffelburg
After mutually agreeing to end a four-year run managing the Los Angeles Football Club, Bob Bradley needed less than a week to move across the continent for his next assignment. Bradley, 63, was officially introduced as the head coach and sporting director for Toronto FC on Wednesday, placing him in the same organization as his…
CF MONTRÉAL (1) – TORONTO FC (0) POST GAME SUMMARY
MTL – Romell Quioto 72’ (Rudy Camacho)
MTL – Joaquín Torres 21’ (caution)
TOR – Richie Laryea 36’ (caution)
TOR – Yeferson Soteldo 57’ (caution)
TOR – Mark Delgado 87’ (caution)
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Julian Dunn, Michael Bradley (C), Chris Mavinga; Richie Laryea, Noble Okello (Jordan Perruzza 78’), Mark Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Jacob Shaffelburg (Nick DeLeon 78’); Alejandro Pozuelo (Ifunanyachi Achara 16’), Dom Dwyer (Yeferson Soteldo 78’)
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Justin Morrow, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
CF MONTRÉAL – Sebastian Breza; Joel Waterman, Rudy Camacho, Kamal Miller; Zachary Brault-Guillard (Zorhan Bassong 60’), Victor Wanyama (C), Ahmed Hamdi, Mathieu Choinière; Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquín Torres (Lassi Lappalainen 72’), Romell Quioto (Samuel Piette 78’)
Substitutes Not Used: James Pantemis, Matko Miljevic, Emanuel Maciel, Sunusi Ibrahim
Toronto FC winger Jacob Shaffelburg (one goal and three assists in three appearances) won the Best Young Canadian Player award, recognizing the tournament’s best Canadian under-21 player.
JAVIER PÉREZ – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q: You lose Jozy Altidore to flu-like symptoms; you lose Pozuelo early in the match, and you’re on the back foot most of the match and yet you have a chance in the 90th minute to tie up which doesn’t work. Do you think this game is kind of a microcosm of the whole season?
Yeah, I think it reflects the whole season, right. I mean, you are in a game, basically, with no DPs because we lose Alejandro in the 15th minute or 16th minute I think, and then you play without the piece. Remember we started the game with three academy players, and I think we prepared really well this game. We are disappointed because we wanted to win this championship. I think it was something very important for us.
But I’m happy. I’m proud of the players. I’m proud of the players and I’m proud of the way they fought today. I am proud how they execute the plan and I think we deny a lot of chances from Montréal, and I think we have a good game. We just lost focus in one play, and we pay the price of the championship.
But we have, as well, our chances. We knew that we would have our chances and then you need a little bit of luck, too. You need that ball that hits the goal post in the 90th minute just to go in, and get a little bit of things on your side, which we didn’t. I think like you mentioned, absolutely right, this reflects a little bit what has been our season this year.
Q: I appreciate how you say you think you are pleased with your team, or you thought they put in a good performance, but how do you rectify that with the fact that Montréal dominated possession and out-shot you 23-4 and you didn’t have a single shot on goal? How can that be a good team performance?
Yeah, I think I repeat again, you have to read the contest. You play without the piece, right. You play minimized, and you play away from home. As you know, when you play away from home, it’s different than when you play at home. We tried to get matched tactically, the game, as well thinking about where we come from in terms of results, in terms of conceding goals.
I think even if they had more chances, then the dynamic, you can look at the goal they score, you can’t look at the statistics after that moment, we were the more dangerous team on the field.
So a final is a final. You cannot read too much into the statistics. You play to win the final. We came here with that mentality and in the end we concede one goal and we are forced to come out to get the goal that give us the opportunity to come back in the game.
So in the end, it’s just the tactical approach to the game.
Q.How much did losing Pozuelo early and Jozy not being available impact the game plan that you guys had been working ongoing into this one?
Yeah, it changed everything, right. It changed everything from the moment that Jozy is not here with us, and he’s the most effective player I think against Montréal, so that gives you an edge.
Another one that has been historically very effective against Montreal has been dangerous on the field, is Dom. But then you lose Alejandro, and the way we were preparing, he was our catalyst. He was passing all the balls through him in order to generate our offensive game, that’s the way we prepared for the game, and obviously the 15th minute when he comes off the field, you have to change completely the tactics and the shape. So the game obviously looks different.
To answer your question, you’re absolutely right, losing these two players, it makes a huge impact in our ability and performance.
Q.You mentioned a couple times about the designated players and how the narrative has been that you have not had your designated players available to you this season. How frustrating is that to you as a coach? And all three of those guys, they are under contract next season. Do you think that’s still an area the team has to address with how important designated players are in the League?
Yeah, in the end, the ones playing are the players, and you depend as well on your quality.
I don’t feel frustrated as a coach because in the end my job is to make the most of the team that is available. And I’m happy with the way the team has been working. And when one player is not there, another one comes off bench, or even in training, and they do the best they can.
So I cannot be frustrated when I see the players that are available and they give everything. Like in the case today, we have — I mention we have three academy players on the field. I mean, Julian is amazing. It is only his second game in the season and he has the opportunity to play the final. Then Noble, the same way with I think an amazing future. And Jacob, you can say academy or development player, he receives that award to the best young player of the tournament.
But in the end, when you lose the quality players, there’s only so much that you can do, which is fight, be in an organized structure tactically which I think we were, and then you depend on the quality.
So if you are missing players that they are DPs, Yeferson, for instance, he came off the bench, but he was injured. The minutes that he played today, he was minimized. And I think it’s been a little bit the story of our season. With our top players not being able to contribute, and in the end, we pay the price for that because in this league, in MLS or even in the Canadian Championship, you cannot count on your three DPs. You are minimized and it’s difficult to compete.
JACOB SHAFFELBURG – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Q: Your team had put so much emphasis on this final given the way the season went, and despite the statistics, your team had a chance to tie it late in the 90th minute. Can you give us a sense of the emotions going through the dressing room right now?
It was quiet right now in the locker room, obviously, just because it’s never the best feeling, losing a final. I don’t think we were upset because we lost it by a lot. We were upset because we knew we could win it. It’s just a hard one for everybody to get over.
But we’ll be back next year, and better.
Q: Just wondering, to get your perspective on how you thought the team’s overall performance was tonight, I appreciate that you were missing some key players, but it just seemed like it was a little bit lump and a little bit just lifeless, not coming until like really the last five minutes. I mean, how would you characterize the team’s overall effort today?
I thought we were solid. We stuck to our game plan. We defended well majority of the game except that one hiccup we had, but everyone makes mistakes, so it’s, whatever. It’s just how it works out that we couldn’t get a goal.
And I thought we had a few opportunities in the first half, and we hit the post in the second. It could have gone either way, and today it went Montréal’s way.
Q: You sort of pre-exempted my question a little bit there with your answer. So maybe I’ll just sort of ask: A lot was put into this final as a way to being able to make something of the season. How will you remember this year, and what could you look to take from this and bring it into the off-season?
It’s motivation. We’re all upset and we don’t want to have this feeling again. We don’t want to have the feeling we had the entire season honestly.
So we want to go into next season and we’ll use this as motivation, this entire season, to push ourselves for next season and have a better season next year.
Q: With the way the game is growing in this country and we see what the national team is doing on both the men’s and women’s side, just wondering what exactly does it mean to you to take home this Best Young Canadian Player award?
I didn’t actually know there was an award, so it was cool to be awarded at the end. It was a really cool feeling. It’s like the first personal award I’ve ever won, so it was a really cool feeling, and just my parents, my family, are all really proud of me, so it’s a cool moment and I can’t wait to get back home and kind of celebrate that personal achievement with them.
TORONTO FC (2) – PHILADELPHIA UNION (2) POST GAME SUMMARY
PHI – Alejandro Bedoya 1’ (Dániel Gazdag, Kai Wagner)
TOR – Jozy Altidore 66’ (Noble Okello)
TOR – Jack Elliott 70’ (own goal)
PHI – Sérgio Santos 77’ (Kai Wagner)
TOR – Chris Mavinga 57’ (caution)
PHI – José Martínez 87’ (caution)
Toronto FC 6-17-9 27 points
Philadelphia Union 13-8-11 50 points
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Michael Bradley (C), Chris Mavinga (Justin Morrow 83’), Kemar Lawrence; Mark Delgado, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 65’); Alejandro Pozuelo, Jacob Shaffelburg (Jayden Nelson 83’), Jozy Altidore
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Eriq Zavaleta, Julian Dunn, Nick DeLeon, Patrick Mullins, Jordan Perruzza
PHILADELPHIA UNION – Matt Freese; Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; José Martínez, Alejandro Bedoya (C) (Jesús Bueno 86’), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 73’); Dániel Gazdag (Sérgio Santos 58’), Jamiro Monteiro, Kacper Przybyłko
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Bendik, Stuart Findlay, Nathan Harriel, Anthony Fontana, Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan
Michael Bradley made his 250th appearance for Toronto FC in all competitions.
Noble Okello registered his first assist for Toronto FC.
Jozy Altidore has scored in back-to-back MLS games for the first time since scoring against Houston Dynamo on July 20, 2019 and FC Cincinnati on July 27, 2019.
JAVIER PÉREZ – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.It seemed like we were going to be writing a story about a comeback win tonight, but the team kind of shot itself in the foot with another bad goal. What do you take away from that performance? Seems like a lot of good effort was wasted.
As you know, Neil, I like to focus on the positives. I think it’s a good game. First half we took control. Forget the first 30 seconds of the game, but we took control of the game. And the second half, we came back with a couple of goals. We have to remember that this is the second — the second team in the East — coming into this game was the second team of the East. So it’s a pretty good team, well organized.
I think we get a bit more comfortable with the 1-2. You can tell that we are not used to having the lead in the games because we kind of put the foot off the pedal a little bit. And then obviously when Santos came into action, we took more risk because they play with Przybyłko and Santos on top. And we have our two center backs, and it was more difficult for us. Right?
But I think — I think I’m happy with the performance of the team tonight. And I think we showed today that we have to be that team that was in the playoffs. It’s not in the odds, it’s not in the cards for us this year for us. But the quality is there. And I think we deserved more tonight, we deserved more for the season.
Q.Obviously, you’re somewhat vindicated by starting Jozy tonight — sorry, starting him for the first time from his comeback. Aside from the goal, what else did you see from Jozy? How would you evaluate his performance tonight?
Jozy comes — you have to remember, he comes a long way. I think the last time he played 90 minutes it was in March 2020, more than a year and a half ago. So the fact he completed 90 minutes, he scored a goal. He kind of created as well the opportunity for the second because I think if the deflection don’t happen, he’s there to finish the play as well. That transforms the team. I think we have Number 9, our reference out front, that not only can scores goal but as well be the reference when we press.
I think I highly value as well the effort, how he dictates the direction of the team, whether we have to press. So I think he brings a lot of positives into the team. So I think today, for him, it’s a big milestone because he’s 90 minutes. And we want to see more of him. It’s two games in a row of scoring. So I just can only encourage him and keep putting him on the field so he can do what he does best.
Q.You said you want — even though you guys are out of the playoffs, you said you want your team to finish the season strong with a good effort every night. Are you pretty satisfied that the team is doing that for you?
I am. I think it’s not easy when you don’t have a clear objective like is in our case to come tonight and put the performance that we put together.
And I think the team fought. The team took the control of the game. I think we were a bit upside. We tied 2-2. Yes. It’s true, we didn’t win the game, but I think the effort is there and the mental concentration is during the 90 minutes, taking aside the first 30 seconds of the game.
I think it’s there. And I think the team wants more this season. They know this season is not over. They know that we cannot just show for one games in the semifinals, that we have to keep going, we have to keep displaying good performances. And, again, I’m satisfied with what I saw tonight.
Q.You touched on this a little bit, but earlier this week, you were saying one of the difficulties the team has had is the lack of a real goal threat up top. And with the return of Jozy and getting draws in these two games, is having a certified threat at the top of the formation the sort of thing that turns losses into draws and draws into wins?
Yes. I think you are right. I think I have to acknowledge that if we have control of the game we don’t create as many threats as we should. I think sometimes we have 20 players around the ball or too many players on other parts of the field and not enough players inside the box. And that’s something we obviously have to work on and we have to modify.
That’s obviously my responsibility. And I think we are trying to adjust to that. I think we need to find — we have more players that they feel more comfortable with the ball. But at the same time, we need to find who is going to attack the space and who is going to get inside the box when the ball is wide. And that, I think, is going to help us to capitalize the opportunities.
But we have to remember that where we create more chances is when the ball is wide. When we made the crosses I think with Jahkeele, with Jacob on the left, we created a lot of chances. With Jahkeele on the right when he come on, we created some more. And then it’s a question of who is going to be inside to materialize or capitalize these opportunities.
Q.Two questions, if I may. First, if Richie Lareya had been able to play tonight, would you have played Kemar at center back?
I cannot answer that question because I didn’t have Richie, obviously. So I can only answer questions with facts and situations that I have in front of me. And unfortunately — Richie is one of the best players in the team, and unfortunately he was ineligible tonight. And we have to find a solution.
So would he be playing? Yes. So that’s the short answer. Who would be playing in the center back position? I don’t even question — or I don’t even ask myself that question because I didn’t have the opportunity to have Richie tonight.
Q.Fair enough. And I understand you want to focus on the positives. But both Philadelphia goals tonight were scored by players who were left unmarked. How can a team succeed when that happens?
You’re absolutely right. I think you answered the question yourself. I think both plays, they are similar in a way. There is a third one that he hit the crossbar and it’s very similar. So that’s a mistake. And that’s something we’ve been penalized for, and that’s why we have today a draw and not a win.
Q.Javier, that was Michael Bradley’s 250th appearance for this club tonight. That’s a big milestone for any player. I know we’ve talked about Michael’s contributions a lot over the years, but I wonder if you could speak about what that means and what it means in world soccer when a player reaches a milestone with a club like this?
I mean, I don’t have objectives for Michael. I think I spoke long and enough about him, his commitment, his dedication, his leadership with the club. Even 250 games is not even enough for him because he’s — everything that he has contributed not only in this club but, I mean, in everywhere where he has been. I can only say positive things about him.
As you know, we worked together for the past ten years on and off, and I know him very well. And at this point, I think he’s embracing his role as a captain. He’s embracing the leadership. And I think it’s an example for all of us. So I think I said there a lot of compliments for him, and they are all well deserved. So congratulations to Michael. Hopefully he can stay with us another 250 games.
NOBLE OKELLO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Q.On the weekend, your team had a tie that seemed like a win. Does this tie kind of seem like a loss given the late goal?
I mean, I feel like in the game, we were the better team. We controlled most of the possession in the game. Yeah. I think we had an unlucky end, but I think it was still a good performance from us.
Q.Congratulations on the assist. Can you walk us through that play a little bit? What did you see on it? And how does it feel to get your first point in the league?
Yeah. I just got a call from Mike to step on the play because there was a guy in front of me. And I just read the pass, and I tried to intercept it, and it worked out. And it landed to Jozy’s feet. So I’m happy to get my first assist for our club.
Q.How much confidence are you gaining after every performance like this? I mean, you played three straight. You started three straight games, and your teammates have praised the way you played. Are you gaining confidence with every game out there?
Yes. I’m getting confidence. I’m trying to improve every game that I get called by the coach. And, yes, I’m just trying to get better every day. So I’m happy that my teammates are believing in me, and it helps me on the field.
Q.Michael played his — or appeared in his 250th game for the club tonight. Can you just touch on what it’s been like to work with him or at times under him?
Yeah. Michael is such a leader for us not only on the field but off the field, especially with us young players. I feel he’s helped me grow a lot, especially this year playing a little bit more, but, yeah, just a good leader for me, and I’m happy to keep playing with him now.
Q.Noble, you know, that’s two games in a row where Jozy Altidore has scored, and it’s two games where you guys got results, perhaps not the ones that you wanted. But can you speak a little bit about how much of a difference it’s made having him back on the team? There was a moment late where Jahkeele had a bit of a chance from wide, and we saw a shot of Jozy sort of, you know, applauding him on. What does that do for you young guys to have a guy like that at your backs?
Yeah. Jozy is another player that helps us young guys on and off the field. I feel like he’s a player that’s welcomed each and every one of us from the minute we joined this team. And, yeah, he continues to keep pushing us to succeed. I’m just happy he’s in the club helping us every day. So not only is he a legend in the club, but he’s also a very good person, so we’re thankful for him.
TORONTO FC (1) – CF MONTRÉAL (1) POST GAME SUMMARY
MTL – Sunusi Ibrahim 55’
TOR – Jozy Altidore 90+5’
TOR – Patrick Mullins 6’ (caution)
TOR – Noble Okello 54’ (caution)
TOR – Jonathan Osorio 58’ (caution)
MTL – Emanuel Maciel 58’ (caution)
TOR – Jacob Shaffelburg 64’ (caution)
Toronto FC 6-17-8 26 points
CF Montréal 11-10-10 43 points
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Michael Bradley (C), Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea; Mark Delgado, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio; Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty (Jozy Altidore 66’), Patrick Mullins (Alejandro Pozuelo HT), Jacob Shaffelburg (Jayden Nelson 85’)
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Justin Morrow, Eriq Zavaleta, Julian Dunn, Nick DeLeon, Jordan Perruzza
CF MONTRÉAL – James Pantemis; Joel Waterman, Rudy Camacho, Kamal Miller; Zachary Brault-Guillard (Zorhan Bassong 85’), Emanuel Maciel (Ahmed Hamdi 66’), Samuel Piette (C), Mathieu Choinière; Joaquín Torres (Bjørn Johnsen 89’), Djordje Mihailovic, Sunusi Ibrahim (Matko Miljevic 84’)
Substitutes Not Used: Sebastian Breza, Mustafa Kizza, Aljaž Struna, Ballou Tabla, Rida Zouhir
JAVIER PÉREZ – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.Your team really came on strong in the second half. Do you feel this is a game where you finally — your team finally got what it deserved?
I think we deserved more. I think the numbers say that we deserved more, and it’s a little bit unbelievable that we were 10 seconds away from going empty-handed. We crossed the ball 19 times against five from them. We got more possessions. We got the expected goal higher than them. Everything was on our side except one thing, which is the scoreboard. So I think in the end, we are happy with that point. I think the team looks like a team, and I think — I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m every day with the players and I’m every day with the guys and I know how hard they are working, how they are trying to get out of this situation, and it’s very difficult, but I think tonight, that extra effort that it was needed, they put it — they put them — they put it on the field, the energy, and in the end, we got a point, I think well deserved.
Q.I think it was earlier this week, you were asked about the team’s lack of finishing in front of goal and you didn’t really have any sort of definitive answers. I wonder if today, was it just a matter of just on Pantemis was playing really well and you ran into a hard goalkeeper before Jozy scored with a free kick late in the game?
No, I think — I still struggle to find answers because we have the opportunities. Again, the statistics, they showed up, goal expected is 2.7, visitors 1.8. I think we have enough opportunities to be ahead in the scoreboard, but we were not.
Obviously it’s no question, right. When I say is no — I don’t have answers; I do have answers. We are not a team that is really built to capitalize or have players that they score a lot of goals, and when we look at the goals that we scored this season, it’s very well spread out with our players. I mention already that in our previous press conference with maybe also the top scorer, but we have a lot of players with three goals. That means with we don’t really have goal scorers. We have a team that collectively we enjoy playing and we have the possession, we are a possession-based team but we don’t have players that they can capitalize with a lot of goals. That’s the answer, really, to the question.
But I think — I think we have the ability to move the ball quick. We have the ability to have the control of the game. And I think this is an appealing part of the game, too. I would like to have more players, they can find double-digits scoring goals. That would be helpful for the team. I think the way we have to go is finding that collective effort to score goals — goal-scoring opportunities, and again, I think to know we have the chances. We just struggled to capitalize.
Q.Just listening to you, it sounds like you’re disappointed by this point. Would that be fair to say that you’re a little bit disappointed by this result and that you’re not coming way with more here?
No, I’m not disappointed. I think it would be ungrateful to be disappointed, because we didn’t have any points all the way up till the 90-minute plus, almost four, right. I think we have to be very grateful that we got a point out of this game. We were very close to be empty-handed. So the only thing I’m saying is that we did all the right things to — and we were the better team statistically to get away with three points.
Somehow we didn’t capitalize, we don’t score the goals. But I think it would be unfair to be unhappy or to be — I think it would be being ungrateful for that point that I think tonight, it was well-deserved because the players, they gave everything and they played really well.
Q.We haven’t seen Michael Bradley play at center back a whole lot. I asked you a question earlier this week about the back three last match, it’s very much the same here with Michael. Was this a necessity they played at center back or was that something you wanted to try out?
It was both things. It was a necessity, and it was something that I had in mind. I think that proves that when Michael needs to step up for the team, does it, and tonight he showed up again. He came up big doing a great job as a center back.
I think that’s an example right there for the rest of the team and for everybody else. He inspires us in a way that he played tonight, and he embraced the role.
Q.In the past you’ve talked about how hard Jozy has worked in training to get back. Tonight we got the pay off and we got to see Jozy the way we used to see him, causing havoc, creating scoring chances and then delivering the final blow. Can you just talk a little bit about his performance and his fight really to get back on the pitch given everything that’s happened to him this year?
Yes, I think I mentioned already that every time I was even coming here to the stadium, seeing him in the training facility, working by himself, it’s difficult for me because I know how emotional and how much he wants to succeed and to help the club.
But at the same time, when I come here to the games and I see that he’s working really hard, and tonight, I think it was paying off for him. I think it was really a relief. It was a great relief to see that finally he can come, help the team, being part of the group. I think it paid off all the effort that he made.
Now we have to keep building up on that. I think his quality is undeniable. His quality is right there, and I think he can be the player that he was before. Again, I think it’s been a really difficult year for him, being out with a lot of rhythm that has been cut out of his training or his games. When I first was in charge, I thought he was going to come back. Then he got the injury, and he’s been out for a long time.
So hopefully now, the team that it starts to look like a team, we can fight together for this last stretch of the season, and we can get a title and we can add up some points in the table.
JOZY ALTIDORE – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Q.It’s been a long, difficult season for both you and the team. I’m just wondering, how good did that goal feel tonight?
It felt great to score again. Especially against Montréal, who is always an added bonus with the rivalry. So it was great to see the people that came out tonight behind the goal, to see them out there even with the season we had, knowing obviously it’s an important game, that was special. To have that moment with them and just talk with them a bit, and manage to come out with a result tonight, not many positives, but it was a positive.
Q.Can you just sort of break down the goal a little bit? Pantemis came up with some pretty big saves on you. Was he cheating off his line? How did you bend it over the free kick? Can you give us some insight?
No, I just tried to hit the target. It was a good distance to go around the wall or up and over the wall. I just figured I’d try to go around that. Haven’t tried that in a while, so said, let me try to go around with a little bit of power and caught him by surprise. I’m happy it worked out, and like I said, I’m happy we were able to get a result, a somewhat positive result.
Q.Obviously you’re happy to get the goal. How happy does it make you to maybe put a serious dent in their playoff aspirations?
Oh, that was obviously a plus. You know, we don’t have much to play for with the season winding down aside from the Canadian championship, so obviously we are aware that they are pushing for a playoff spot. You want to be respectful to everybody else who are competing and trying to make the playoffs. Obviously whether it was Montréal, doesn’t matter who it was, we were going to try to give our best, especially at home but obviously it feels a bit sweeter when you slow Montréal down a bit. That never gets old.
Q.I know you’re a big supporter of a lot of the young guys on this team, and what have your thoughts been on seeing guys like Jahkeele and Noble and Jayden all getting chances?
Yeah, I’m very happy. It’s something to be said because, you know, Jahkeele, when I came here, I used to see him at some of the camps. He was a little guy, and to see him now getting meaningful minutes, to see him locked in improving every day, it brings me so much joy because a lot of these guys were is he very young when I arrived, and to see them making a difference and playing important minutes, it’s just as rewarding as winning a trophy.
To see Noble today in a different role in a tough game, I thought he was fantastic. Never looked phased. Was in control throughout the 90 minutes and then Jacob, we all know he’s been great throughout this season, and Jahkeele now emerging. We have some very, very good young players that have to continue working, but the talent is there. To see Jayden Nelson come on and be full of energy, pushing the game, trying to help us get that goal, like I tell you, it means so much because we spent a lot of time with these guys over the years, and to see them now playing and getting important minutes, it means the world. Hopefully it’s something to build on and they can keep improving as the season goes on and into next season.
Q.You guys launched wave after wave of attack the last few minutes. Was there any sense at all that the goal might come as long as you kept playing hard?
Yeah, I mean, myself, I think I got robbed the first one. I didn’t — I was surprised as how open I was and he made a good point-blank save, and I just wasn’t — I don’t have that game sharpness, normally a couple of chances, even the second one I should just pass in the goal.
I think it’s kind of the story of the season. We’ve never quite lifted off fully as a group. You know, certain guys in, certain guys out. It’s been the story of our year.
But the quality is there, and I think you saw that, and to be able to repeat attacks like you said. Look, we have to take the positives away, and we put a team, a good team that’s fighting for the playoffs on the road.
Q.It’s been a hectic schedule recently and the club has been cautious with you and the other players in terms of minutes, bringing you on off the bench. You talked about game sharpness just now. How do you feel in terms of your game and your fitness at this stage?
To be honest, I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. You know, I kind of paid the price playing with some injuries, with some broken bones here and there. Eventually, they catch up to you, but to be able to have the surgery and my foot is starting to feel much much better, just to be able to run and not feel pain is a huge boon. So I’m excited about that and I’m taking it day-by-day, but I feel so much better now finally, and I just want to play.
I just want to play. I missed the game. I’m just disappointed about how this year has gone, and you know, I’ll be the first guy to tell you it’s disappointing. But nobody is running away from anything. We take all the criticism on the chin and rightly so, but you know, there’s more here. I’m a firm believer in that. People will come up with their pitchforks but that’s part of the business. I just feel better, man. Like I told you, to run and move around without pain, it just feels amazing, because it’s been awhile. I’m just very, very happy and I just thank God for that.
TORONTO FC (3) – CHICAGO FIRE FC (1) POST GAME SUMMARY
CHI – Robert Berić 16’ (Fabian Herbers)
TOR – Mark Delgado 44’ (Jacob Shaffelburg)
TOR – Omar González 56’ (Yeferson Soteldo)
TOR – Yeferson Soteldo 70’ (Jonathan Osorio)
TOR – Yeferson Soteldo 9’ (caution)
CHI – Chinonso Offor 86’ (caution)
TOR – Richie Laryea 89’ (caution)
Toronto FC 6-15-7 25 points
Chicago Fire FC 7-16-6 27 points
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Auro Jr., Omar González, Kemar Lawrence, Richie Laryea; Michael Bradley (C), Mark Delgado, Jonathan Osorio; Ifunanyachi Achara (Justin Morrow 84’), Yeferson Soteldo (Patrick Mullins 90’), Jacob Shaffelburg (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 77’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Luke Singh, Noble Okello, Nick DeLeon, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jayden Nelson
CHICAGO FIRE FC – Gabriel Slonina; Johan Kappelhof (Elliot Collier 75’), Mauricio Pineda, Jonathan Bornstein (C); Federico Navarro, Jhon Espinoza (Stanislav Ivanov 61’), Gastón Giménez, Álvaro Medrán (Chinonso Offor 61’), Miguel Navarro (Francisco Calvo 75’); Fabian Herbers (Ignacio Aliseda 21’), Robert Berić
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Wyatt Omsberg, Javier Casas Jr., Alex Monis
Toronto FC extend their unbeaten streak to five games in all competitions (four wins, one draw).
Toronto FC scored three goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Jacob Shaffelburg has scored or assisted on seven of Toronto FC’s last twelve goals (two goals, five assists).
Omar González scored his third goal of the 2021 MLS regular season, with all three assisted by Yeferson Soteldo.
JAVIER PÉREZ – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.Seems like more of the same, your team played well in the first half and didn’t really get perhaps the rewards and then came out strong in the second. What did you see that you liked today?
The team now as I mentioned before is in a good place, mentally is in a good place. I think offensively with the ball, we are good, feeling comfortable moving the ball. Ultimately finding the opportunities to score. I think we scored three and I think it could have been even more.
The important part is that we are clicking, we are playing as a team and the collective effort takes us to three points and winning games.
Q.Yeferson having a rough first half with the yellow card and did you talk to him in the second half or was that him keeping his head in the game?
I think it’s no question — I think everybody is checking on him, and that was the conversation that I have with the official where he got a knee in his back, but in the end because of the frustration, he complains and he gets a yellow card. These kind of situations happen, right, because he’s the one who has been — the pressure is on him and at the end gets a yellow card.
But I think at halftime, we switched his position with Achara, and I think that helped him a bit more to come in the game and made — for Chicago. I think at this point I think everybody was expecting Yeferson to be at the top but him coming at the side and Achara being up top, it helped us a little bit more to find him and to find the right spaces and in between lines. So I think that was a conversation we had at halftime to be a bit more free and on the side and in between. That helped him to bring alive his game. I’m not in question about his quality.
Q.Now two wins in a row where you’ve kind of conceded first but come-from-behind whereas earlier in the season, whenever you conceded first, it was pretty much the death knell of the club. Aside from the mentality, why has it changed or is it a different mentality?
No, it’s not a different mentality. I think when you look at the numbers or the statistics, you have as well the answer. I think now we are more dangerous. We have more control of the game. We have more possession. We have more opportunities, and it’s just a question of remaining calm when things are not going your way because you know if you are on the other side, at the end you are going to have the chances. You can tie, you can win the game but you know that if you are the dominant team and you have the better side, you are not likely going to lose the game and that has been the story the last two games.
Q.Two goals in as many games by Delgado. What have you seen over the stretch for him to get to those positions?
Yeah, I think again, he has done a great job. Our midfield is getting stronger and our midfield has tempo of the game and now him getting to key positions, we have more opportunities to score. We have up to five or six players tied with three goals, so we know that every time we score a goal, it’s going to be a collective effort, and I think he’s a smart player, and he’s taking advantage of the situation. He’s finding himself in positions where he can score, and tonight it was another opportunity for him to come back and score that goal that brought us back into the game.
Q.You had Pozuelo on the bench, was he there in case of emergency? You didn’t end up needing him.
Yes, Alejandro is obviously a player of amazing quality. But we have to remember that he has been off the field for a very long time. Tonight it was not the time of game that we needed to push and going to play for ten, 15 minutes and maybe he’s going to have an injury he’s going to come back. So there was no need, basically, to put him at the risk. He was there on the bench if he needed to help the team.
But thankfully it wasn’t necessary to use him.
Q.With six games remaining plus the Canadian championship, do you have a sense of what the team’s greatest growth opportunity is? The team has improved in recent form but where can it get better these last few games?
I think we have to grow, again, we have to grow again one game at a time and keep playing the way we are doing for the past now five, six games, and from here now, we need to keep imposing our tempo and style of game, style of play and if we can win the games with more authority and score goals, keep a little bit more the control of the game, and in the end, it’s what we are looking for, being more — win the games with more authority. That’s all.
Q.The team was a little bit late coming out to the second half. What was the delay there?
No, you don’t have to read in between lines. We just prepare. We just talk a little bit how we were going to adjust the team for the second half, which it was not many changes. As you can see the only change was Yeferson being more wide and Achara to be a little bit more up front because we felt like we needed a bit more bite inside the box and need a little bit more freedom to Yeferson to move in between lines, and then coming out on the field is just, I don’t know, getting ready. So it’s nothing to read in between.
JONATHAN OSORIO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Q.We’ll just start with your thoughts on the match tonight, please.
I think it was a good match for us, good performance. We go down a goal again, and for the second time in a row, the response was really good. You know, we earn a penalty right after. We miss it but even the response after that was really good and I thought that was important, and so we find the equalizer before the half. Yeah, it was a great match and I thought we played really well. We executed the plan very well and we’re on a roll and we want to keep it going.
Q.It’s two games in a row now where you’ve come-from-behind to record wins whereas early in the season when you conceded first, it was usually meant almost always — do you have a sense of what’s changed? Why are you guys suddenly now able to come from behind?
I think we changed. We were trying to find the right system for the team and because of injuries and certain things we had to adapt, I think we found a system that really suits us and is the best way for to us play and give us a chance to win games. Along with that, you know, getting I think the Miami game brought us a lot of confidence in the way we fought, even going a man down. It’s just going off the confidence of the previous game and we’ve been doing that ever since the Miami game and so every game we’ve had more confidence and even if we go down a goal we can come right back.
Yeah, I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, and you know, guys in the locker room care. There’s guys that really care and want to keep fighting, so we’ll keep doing that.
Q.What’s your thoughts on just how Soteldo is sort of playing these days? He admitted that he’s struggled a little bit missing his family and all that kind of thing. Lately you could see he’s been lights out. Could you offer a comment on how he’s doing and how he’s playing these days?
He’s playing very well. He’s very effective for us and if we move him to the middle playing as kind of a striker, a false nine, and I think that’s suiting him. He’s stretching the back line for us, which I think we need in our team. He’s in the front three with guys that are stretching the back line making a lot of space for them and making them dangerous as well as making space for guys like me and Marc and Michael in the middle.
I think you know people judge him on not scoring goals and stuff but he contributes a lot. He’s been contributing a lot of our goals. He’s been a big part of most of our goals, but I think he’s more of a provider than a goal scorer but it’s good for him. It was good for him to get on the score sheet and that’s going to give him confidence and so I think he’s only going to get better as he figures out the week and gets his confidence, he’ll be more and more effective for us.
Q.As you know, we don’t get to see you much these days. We don’t get to go to training, so we don’t have a sense of what the team is like away from the games. This run the team is on now, the unbeaten run, is it fun coming into work these days or is it going to take a few more wins before fun comes into it?
No, it’s fun. You know, in this line of work, sometimes when things aren’t going good and of course when you’re not winning, you easily forget the blessing that we have; we’re all here doing what we love and we get to do it every day. There’s not many people in this world that get to say that. You know, even more so in the middle of a pandemic when so much things have happened to people and their businesses and things like that, and so you know, when things were bad, we’ll always have to find a way to keep the spirit up, and you always have to find a way to be grateful no matter what. Of course we’re in a business where winning solves everything. Winning, that’s just the way it is, and that’s fine but of course, nowadays we’re winning, so it’s fun. It’s fun but we try to keep it fun every day. We can’t let the setbacks brings us down and bring us down in our lives. We have to always remember, we are privileged to do what we — to be able to do what we do and we have to come to work and not take that for granted and try to use it to get better and have fun and enjoy it even in the hard times. To answer your question, right now it is fun during that unbeaten run.
TORONTO FC (3) – FC CINCINNATI (2) POST GAME SUMMARY
CIN – Rónald Matarrita 38’ (Luciano Acosta)
TOR – Jacob Shaffelburg 48’ (Yeferson Soteldo, Mark Delgado)
TOR – Mark Delgado 55’ (Jacob Shaffelburg, Richie Laryea)
TOR – Ifunanyachi Achara 65’ (Jacob Shaffelburg, Yeferson Soteldo)
CIN – Luciano Acosta 72’
CIN – Florian Valot 32’ (caution)
CIN – Edgar Castillo 41’ (caution)
CIN – Gustavo Vallecilla 59’ (caution)
TOR – Ifunanyachi Achara 59’ (caution)
CIN – Caleb Stanko 74’ (caution)
TOR – Yeferson Soteldo 76’ (caution)
TOR – Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 90’ (caution)
Toronto FC 5-15-7 22 points
FC Cincinnati 4-14-8 20 points
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Auro Jr., Omar González, Kemar Lawrence, Richie Laryea; Michael Bradley (C), Mark Delgado, Jonathan Osorio; Ifunanyachi Achara (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 66’), Yeferson Soteldo (Patrick Mullins 90+2’), Jacob Shaffelburg (Justin Morrow 82’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Julian Dunn, Luke Singh, Noble Okello, Nick DeLeon, Jayden Nelson
Jacob Shaffelburg has scored or assisted on six of Toronto FC’s last nine goals (two goals, four assists).
Jacob Shaffelburg recorded three goal contributions (one goal, two assists) in a single game for the first time in his Toronto FC career.
Toronto FC extend their unbeaten streak to four games in all competitions (three wins, one draw).
JAVIER PÉREZ – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.It looked in the first half, maybe I’m wrong, but it looked like you were urging your players to move the ball faster. They seemed to do that the second half. Did that make the difference?
Yes, absolutely. I think we have players that they have quality, they can move the ball fast, and first and foremost I ask for the team at halftime when, when we were 1-0 down, told them to stay calm, to stay in the game mentally, because we were the better side and because the goals were going to come. So just stay calm, move a little faster, the ball, and our players have been a little bit closer to the back line. So we have more opportunities to play the through balls.
So I think by staying calm and moving the ball fast, we just get rewarded in the second half.
Q.Further about the question of the speed of play, how influential was Jacob Shaffelburg in that regard?
He’s a very, very important player for us. He’s the one who can run behind. He can make crosses. He delivers good services. He’s in a great moment, and Jacob now obviously earn the respect of the whole team and the coaching staff, so it’s in a good moment that we have to keep it that way.
Q.Kemar Lawrence is someone who earlier in the season when we asked him if he could play center back, he said it’s not really his position but he would sort of give it a try. Obviously he played there tonight because of injuries. What did you think of him, and how much — could he be more sort of a sent are back option going forward?
Yeah, Kemar has some good qualities. He’s fast and he’s good with the ball. In that regard, he’s a player that he can deal with the fast players up front. This league is particular; it has that characteristic. Many teams, they have the speed up front and obviously he’s fast. He can deal with that. And at the same time, he proved to work well with different pairs of center backs. It’s not the first team that he plays in that position with us, and he’s doing a great job.
So I think that he’s a diversified player and it’s paying off for us because at the moment as you know, we are thin in that position, and he’s playing really well as a center back. We are happy that we can count on him. We know that he’s going to — we know that we can rely on him.
Q.We’ve talked about stabilizing the team and getting the defense working and then getting the offense going and all those sort of things, but I think tonight was the first time the team has won a game after conceding the first goal. What does that say about the progress this group is making?
Yeah, I think I mentioned already previously that — in other press conferences, it’s very difficult when you are down there to get out. It looks like nothing goes on your way. I think I mentioned already in the past, as well, that the team is finally clicking and probably today it wasn’t as pretty because we conceded a goal even if we had more chances. We just need to capitalize at the beginning because that’s part of the nature in football. When you don’t capitalize, you get penalized. That was our story of the first half today.
But I think as I mentioned last week, this group of individuals start to look like a team, and that was the second half, the story of the second half of this team; that we didn’t give up; that we knew we were conscious that we were the better side on the field, and then we wanted to make sure that we were going to turn around the game and we were 3-1, we scored three goals, so I think — I think the team is now getting more confidence even after this game, and I think we are in a good place towards the end of the season.
Q.Further to James’s question, you were behind and took the lead but they came back and scored the goal. How much resiliency, how much are you seeing that sort of taking shape with this team whereas maybe a week or a month ago you might have conceded another one and given up two points?
Yeah, but you see the second goal — the first goal, I can give it. I can give it to you because the first goal is we get put out and we lose our structure. The first goal is okay. But the second goal is a very clear off-side, so I cannot give that to anybody. I think they have to start to make the right calls. I think now it’s enough. Enough is enough. It’s just I don’t like — as I said before, I don’t like to be critical of the referees but the second goal is clear off-side and it shouldn’t go to the scoreboard. It should be 3-1.
Q.Do you always have a stopwatch out during extra time?
I do, yes. Because today we could see that they were going extra 45 seconds, and the reason Fabrizio, the first official, that they were going a little bit longer is because we made a stop in the extra time. We brought Patrick but he told me it was going to be 30 seconds and we were 40, 45 seconds, and the game was still on.
So it’s obviously — just to have your own watch, because five seconds, it can make a difference. It can be the difference between winning a game or having a tie.
JACOB SHAFFELBURG – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Q.Have you gotten a sense this season the way you’ve been working that if you’ve given a chance, you could start playing and producing the way you have the last few games?
Yeah, the team’s helped me quite a bit, to have my confidence back from — I haven’t felt like this in a while. So just to have my confidence back and back to doing what I know, it’s been great and I think I can continue this with the team.
Q.The last few games from what I’ve seen, you’ve formed a really effective sort of partnership with Richie and Jonathan down that left side. From your perspective, why is that sort of attacking trio click? Why is it working so well?
I think Richie and I and Oso work well together. I think I’m not a guy that when you throw in is going to disrupt them. I’m going to listen to them and try to do what they want. I think I just go in with them smoothly, and I just help them going forward. And we’re just all clicking at the same time right now, so it’s been great.
Q.It looks like you’re always on the lookout to break past the last line of defense and Soteldo found you a few times tonight. What’s it like playing with Soteldo knowing what he can do with the ball?
It’s amazing. He’s an amazing player and I think I’m just starting to earn his respect a lot more in the last few games, so and we’re starting to pass and connect way more and it’s been great. It’s coming off nicely. We’re going to get an assist here soon.
Q.The connection between you and Achara, curious how that came off for you?
We’ve had that connection since high school. So every single time I get the ball on the wing, I always look up for him because I know he’s going to be coming late on that far side. And I tried to find him in the first half and it didn’t come off. And then the one he looked, I just looked up and saw him there, so I knew I had to put it in the right spot and score.
Q.Did you think given a chance to play, and you’re in — obviously because one of the reason is injuries and whatnot, but did you really think that given a chance to play that you could step up like you have been; that you just needed a chance?
I always knew I had it in the back of my head but like I said it’s just all about my confidence. At the start of the year, it was up and down. Midseason I didn’t have the best confidence. And just coming in that Miami game and just getting my confidence up knowing that I can compete in this league and keep up the pace with everyone really helped me.
Yeah, now I feel like I can do this almost game-in and game-out with how I’m feeling right now. But obviously I’ve got to reset and look forward to Chicago on Sunday.
Kemar Lawrence scored his first goal for Toronto FC.
Tsubasa Endoh scored his 10th goal for Toronto FC in all competitions.
Dom Dwyer made his 200th MLS regular season appearance tonight, split between Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC and Toronto FC.
Javier Pérez earned his first MLS victory as coach of Toronto FC.
JAVIER PÉREZ – INTERIM HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.Congratulations on your first win at the helm.
Q.You didn’t have much time with the team before this game. Can you tell us what your main message was to the team? It clearly worked.
Yeah, so I think I mentioned this in the press conference before traveling. We have very limited time, just two days to prepare. The first day we worked on our defensive shape, how we were going to prepare the team against New England, and the second day we work about how we were going to play with the ball. So I think the game reflects both parts of the game that we worked on in training.
Defensive part, at the same time, I like how the team knew how to suffer and get the result and get the job done.
Q.Can you say how much a win does to take the weight off the shoulders of the team and the players do you think this win is?
Yes, I thinks have a very important win because not only for what just happened during the past week but it’s been extremely tough for the players and staff to be away from home, away from their families, and it was kind of very important to put together a good performance, not only to win, but to put together a good performance to believe, again, in us, and I think the team responded. I think the team put together a good performance.
So to answer your question, I think it was a big weight that the players took off their shoulders.
Q.This was the first game where Soteldo and Pozuelo started with each other. What did you make of their collective performance between the two?
I think taking advantage of their ability. Alejandro is a magnificent player with the ball. He’s a player that change the tempo of the game, and Yeferson is a player that can take one, maybe two players by himself. He can hold the ball.
So, basically take advantage of the characteristics of both of them.
Q.Was that your first match as a head coach, if so, how did you enjoy the view from the coach’s box on the sideline, and what goes into the notebook we saw you scribbling in?
What goes into that notebook? A lot of things. A lot of things.
The credit is to the players. The coaches, we are there to support them, to help them, try to read what is in the game before the game to think about different possibilities that can happen.
The beauty of the game is that always it’s going to happen but it’s not in the notebook and you have to react to that. So the notebook helps, but in the end, the players are the ones, they make the performances.
Q.Is there an update on the status of Chris Mavinga? I noticed he was out of the 18 tonight.
Yes, Chris, we kept him out as a precaution because he has some discomfort, so that’s the only reason why Chris was out.
Q.The team is coming home now. You don’t play until July 17th. What is your plan? Will the team get some time off to go back to their homes and families or will you go straight back to practice?
No. The team is, as I said before, it’s been a really challenging time for everybody, players as well as staff. They need to go home. They need to see their families. Some of the players, they have never been in Toronto. They need to settle down. So they are going to have some days off. They are going to come back happy to the training facility we have waiting for us in Toronto. We have an amazing stadium, and hopefully we have, as well, the fans waiting for us in the stadium.
And that’s what they need, just some days off to settle down in Toronto, and then we will go back to business, go back to work.
Q.Is there an update on your situation? Obviously we’re assuming that you’re going to be coaching the next game, but have you been given any type of formal update on your situation as a head coach?
Yes, I think I mentioned this before. I was going to take today, today’s game, as my next challenge, and I think right now, the answer is the same. My next challenge is June 17 at home, and get three points over there. So if the management doesn’t communicate to me anything different, I will be taking that challenge.
Q.Perhaps you could ask for a raise.
Q.Perhaps you could ask for a raise.
Let’s keep winning.
TSUBASA ENDOH – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Q.Can you give us an idea of what that win meant to you guys after going through so much leading up to tonight’s game?
It meant everything. You know, collectively, individually, honestly. It was much needed. We played hard. We came out strong. I mean, you know, it was just we gave it all, and it’s something that we showed on the field.
Q.Obviously you must be happy to be going home back to Toronto. Can you tell us what the feeling is in the locker room about coming back north of the border?
You know, all I can say is that we are all excited to be back in Toronto after spending time for, I don’t know, more than three months in Orlando. You know, it wasn’t easy but we adjusted. It just is what it is. We are professionals, so we adjusted.
So, yeah, but we are excited to be back home, hopefully in front of fans.
Q.And can you tell us, was the game plan different going into this game? You didn’t have much time with Javier, but what was his message to you in the couple of days you had working with him?
It was like you said, it wasn’t much time to prepare for this game. So you know, we only had a couple days to get ready for this game.
So it wasn’t easy, but it was clear collectively what we need to do, and you know, each player did everything. Each player gave everything on the field. I mean, you know, you just leave it on the field, and we got those three points and that was definitely much needed as a team and we can move forward from here.
Q.Do you feel like that was a better representation of what this team is capable of than the previous six, seven, eight matches have been?
It’s hard to compare. I mean, like, you know, it’s just one game. But you know, it was just a fresh energy from the team. We knew what we need to do on the field, and there’s no talk. We just have to show on the field, and that’s what we do, right.
So we just go out there and we got the three points and hopefully, you know, it will get better from now on.
Q.You’ve only started one game this season, I believe, before this, and that was all the way back on May 15th against New York City FC. Why has it been, I guess, tough for you to get playing time here?
Well, I think I missed the whole preseason because of my injury. I had a surgery, and it hasn’t been easy to get in the mix. And as a player, it’s honestly tough to miss the whole preseason, and just coming into the game and try to understand what the new coach is trying to do.
So I mean, for me, that’s part of the reason why. But even after I came back from surgery, I was struggling a little bit. So it wasn’t — I wasn’t feeling my best. So that was definitely part of it.
But now I’m feeling 100 percent. I’ve been ready, so like I said, I have not been playing in the last couple, I don’t know, back in 2019, first part of 2019. I just had to keep my head down and keep training. You just need to keep training hard, and you know, be ready. Be ready for this kind of opportunity, and then once it’s laid out in front of you, you just need to take it. I’ve been saying that or I’ve been telling myself that for every single time every single year when I first was out of university, right.
So, you know, that’s all you can do. That’s all you can control. So, yeah, I’ve been ready. I’m not the type of guy who complains, go to the coach or whatever. So, just, you know, keep my head down and just be ready for this kind of opportunity. That’s it.
Q.Going forward as a team right now, what do you guys think you have to like sort of concentrate on to sort of keep your play at a consistent level where you can start to get points?
Can you repeat that.
Q.Sure, I’ll repeat that. What part of your game as a team do you think you have to concentrate on or work on or keep a consistent performance going forward?
Personally, a discipline. We just need to be disciplined defensively, offensively. You know, we have a lot of probably players on our team that offensively we can damage the opponents.
But then defensively, you know, we just need to be on the same page, and collectively understand each other. Then, you know, if we don’t concede a lot of goals, we can definitely win the game because we have a lot of talented, attacking players. We showed today that we could score goals. So that showed on the field, and yeah, we just need to keep building on.
Q.On a lighter note, what’s the first thing you do when you get back to Toronto? I don’t suppose you have any plants that need watering at your place or anything like that?
The first thing I’ll do, probably, maybe I’ll go to a restaurant and go to patio and feel like a normal person again (smiling.)
COLUMBUS CREW (2) – TORONTO FC (1) POST GAME SUMMARY
CLB – Luis Díaz 12’ (Pedro Santos)
CLB – Gyasi Zardes 21’ (Pedro Santos)
TOR – Ayo Akinola 52’
Toronto FC 1-4-2 5 points
Columbus Crew 3-2-2 11 points
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Richie Laryea, Eriq Zavaleta, Chris Mavinga (Luke Singh 46’), Kemar Lawrence; Michael Bradley (C), Auro Jr., Mark Delgado (Patrick Mullins 89’), Nick DeLeon (Alejandro Pozuelo 55’), Jacob Shaffelburg (Jayden Nelson 78’); Ayo Akinola
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Justin Morrow, Tsubasa Endoh, Noble Okello, Ralph Priso
COLUMBUS SC – Eloy Room; Harrison Afful, Vito Wormgoor (Jonathan Mensah 73’), Josh Williams, Pedro Santos; Darlington Nagbe (C), Artur (Saad Abdul-Salaam 73’), Luis Díaz (Alexandru Mățan 85’), Lucas Zelarayán, Derrick Etienne Jr.; Gyasi Zardes (Bradley Wright-Phillips 83’)
Substitutes Not Used: Evan Bush, Aboubacar Keita, Grant Lillard, Marlon Hairston, Isaiah Parente
Ayo Akinola scored his 12th career goal for Toronto FC, moving to twelfth all-time in club history (tied with Jermain Defoe).
CHRIS ARMAS – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.Disappointing result today. Your team dug a hole in the first half, better in the second half. What was your take on the performance?
You said it right there. You know, we dug ourselves a hole, so against good teams, it’s hard to dig yourself out. And it’s — when you get played off the pitch, if you just get shelled with shots, then you feel one way.
But you come in, and it’s three or four shots and you’re down 2-0, when you’re trying to push and you’re trying to come in with optimism and you try to come in with belief and you go down the way we went down, right, we are about to score a corner kick and it’s a breakaway and where structurally you have it sorted out. That’s hard, right.
So yeah, the result, we’re not going to ever get used to not winning around here. So we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing in many ways and stick to it if we truly believe we’re doing the right things, and if the results aren’t coming, we’ve got to stick to it. Get guys healthy, keep sticking to it and got to be better, though. Got to be better.
Early on it was set pieces. Today it’s some transition moments, and it becomes hard to win games when we’re giving up goals that are preventable. So yeah, it’s a tough stretch but we are going to get through it and yeah, it’s hard to handle right now but that’s what it is.
Q.Pozuelo, can you speak to how great it was to see him back in action and what he meant to help turn the game in your favor today?
Yeah, look, I think when he’s on the field, he gives a lift to the team, just his presence, and then he adds the quality and he’s always a guy that can find spaces and facilitate the attack. I think you all know that and we’re able to see that.
So he was a big part of the push we make in the second half. Helped put some guys in some good spots, relieve pressure, the whole bit. Yeah, it’s good to have him back. It’s good to see Ayo get himself on the scoreboard and see the guys come out at halftime to get a big push to get a result. We obviously fell short but we are happy to Alejandro back.
Q.Again you were missing some key pieces to your lineup, including Altidore. Can you say anything about what happened with him and why he didn’t make the trip to Columbus?
So the first part, you say we were missing some key pieces. Yeah, look, we are. There’s no secret there. With Soteldo and Pozuelo, Osorio, there’s a bunch of guys out, Chris Mavinga has got to come off at halftime. But despite that, despite that, it’s out — it’s there for us and we are not going to start ever making excuses because it’s enough there on the night. If we give up eight shots in 90 minutes, yeah, it’s there for you, whoever you have, whoever you’re missing.
And look, with Jozy, I know there’s been some questions. For the sake of respecting all parties involved, we wanted to get through this game and use the next days to take a step back before something is said out there. You know, again, there’s too much respect for all parties involved, so I’m not going to address anything with Jozy at the moment. Just that it’s an internal situation that, yeah, that’s it for now.
Q.You talked about the first half obviously not going the way you wanted it but it looked like a much different team in the second half, tale of two halves for sure. Pozuelo’s influence was important but what did you say to the team at halftime and what adjustments did you make at halftime to spark a much better performance in the second half?
Well, look, there’s little things in there. Taking care of the ball better. Taking care of passes where it doesn’t lead to transition. That was talked about last. But the main thing was just to go for it. You know, to leave nothing on the table. To use the next 45 minutes to push the game and to take some risks and to play in their end and to be the aggressors.
Now, we change the way we were pressing. We stepped up in a different way. We pressed out of a 4-1-4-1 to put more pressure on the ball, even before Pozuelo comes on the field, we got a grasp on the game and caused more turnovers and gave them less time. This allowed I think for some of that to happen, for guys just to not hold back and to try to play on the front foot. Like guys, I want to be on the edge of my seat type of thing, watching you guys go after the game, and they did. To be fair, they did, to the very last play. Michael I think almost scores at the end but there’s some chances in there.
I think the challenge is to put that together for 90 minutes and to, you know, but listen, there is the reality of the game, which is when you are out there, you’re trying to control certain spaces, you’re picking moments to press, you give up a goal, it does, it hurts, right. That’s the reality.
So we are going to come back stronger after this game and reset, recharge and be stronger for these first seven matches.
Q.Why didn’t the club disclose Soteldo’s injury and why did the Venezuelan Federation disclose his injury so close to a game for TFC?
It is a good question, it is. But we didn’t know about his injury until the night after we did media. So I get messaged that evening of a hamstring, and they got the information and they just — they quickly revealed that at almost near the same time that we did.
Let’s face it, guys, this isn’t intramural soccer. When you get information about a player, you don’t rush to the media. You don’t call for a press conference to let the opposition know one of our best players is out. So there’s almost two sides of it. I know everyone wants the information but, one, we didn’t have it when I did media, and two, it gets — the next day, we were putting that out, you know, anyway, how it gets out there and then everyone — like you’re asking, like we are holding back the information, at least it sounds that way, but we didn’t. We didn’t.
So I think that almost should go without saying, but it’s I think people expect us to run and reveal every — should I call Caleb Porter and let him know – “hey, just so you know, as you’re preparing, Soteldo’s out.” Think about it.
Q.What broke down on the two Columbus calls, the first one in particular, and what did you see from Ayo on his call today? I thought he took it well.
Yeah, look, Columbus is dangerous. We’ll look back and we have some numbers there, and they are whipping a good ball, and they catch us on that one in a transition moment from a giveaway up the field.
I think more, you know, a strange one is the first one where we have a structure set up on a set piece and it’s a corner kick and it looks really promising on one level and the way we defend our corner kicks is a structured top of the box which three players that help control transition. I didn’t see the goal back but it happened quickly where the ball shoots out and yeah, he gets on the run. It happened quickly, the first one. The timing wasn’t great, and just before the corner kick that we ended up having, it looks like a big moment. I think Nick DeLeon is going on the end line, it’s a big moment to score and seconds later, we give up a goal.
I think it’s one we look back on and a few that we have numbers around, and we have people there. Yeah, we just have to put out those fires.
Q.You guys decided to start Auro Jr. at the center of the park for the third straight match. With other options that are more natural central midfielders in the squad, was he the best option at centre mid and why did you adjust 20 minutes into the match after that?
I mean, we would need like a half hour to talk tactics, and Pep Guardiola starts all midfielders and it’s brilliant, when you have Aguero, Jesus, no strikers, only midfielders and that makes a lot of sense. Like there’s a lot of thought that goes into the lineups and where, how we are best and I think when you have a few players like a Richie Laryea, like Auro, instead of having them compete against each other, you say, hey, how can we get them both on. That’s one part of it.
Then we had to makeshift a little bit, the first time we used Auro there was almost like necessity was the mother of all invention. We needed someone in that part of the field to play 90 minutes, so he got the nod instead of Ralph Priso, let’s say, and we thought he played really well.
So if you just think about a player like Auro who has played that position in his career, not for Toronto but in his career, and he’s intelligent and he’s smart and he plays with real passion. Those are all qualities that make for a good central midfielder. So we think he’s followed it up pretty well there, and then we shifted it into the game tonight where we put him back at right back and pushed Richie up and we saw Richie, we think that’s something interesting, too.
Again, listen, it’s a fair question but it’s not one that — the thought behind and makes some sense behind in a lot of ways.
Q.You touched on it earlier with Chris Mavinga to be subbed off. Luke came in, how do you think he performed in the second half?
Yeah, I think Luke stepped in in a difficult game, and you know, won some aerial duels, connected some passes, defended, some pretty good attackers fairly well. So you know, Luke is coming along and he’s a young player and he’s had some big experiences already in a short season for him with Champions League and even tonight getting thrown out there last second, we had to make that change quickly.
We like Luke. He’s got a good physical and athletic profile and he’s a good passer and he trains well. We thought, again, in a difficult game, he came on and helped us make a push in the second half.
Q.Your players are going their separate ways now on the break, international duties, some going elsewhere. Do you think it may be a chance for them to reset, refresh? And on a personal level, will you get to go home, spend some time with your family? What will you do?
Appreciate it. Yeah, it will be a time that we all use, yes, myself included for a few days back just to see my family.
Yeah, it will be important for everyone to take a step back for just a couple of days, which isn’t always easy when you’re sitting on some results that don’t go our way and you say, well, if you can get a few, you feel much better about enjoying some time. But that’s part of it.
So yeah, the players will get some days to get back to Canada to see some of their families. Some of them will stay in Orlando and do some different things out of there. The extended staff, same situation.
But for sure, take a step back, reset things, recharge the batteries, and all of us, we come back with a vengeance. No one is happy with a 1-4-2 start. There’re some points we leave out there. But on the inside, things are strong. On the inside of these walls over here, things are getting stronger, and things haven’t been easy for this group. But we are going to come back and reload.
Q.In the buildup to this one, you talked about how you felt you had not seen a complete 90-minute performance from the team in MLS this year. Fair to say it wasn’t a complete 90 minutes today. Can you diagnose what the problem is? Is it mental errors? Is it players switching off? How would you diagnose it that you can’t seem to get 90 minutes out of these guys?
Listen, I see effort. I saw effort in Orlando. We can talk about certain games and we can talk specifically about today where you see a team that is pushing and probing and fighting and sticking together and relentless to win the ball back and to attack again and to counter press and to repeat that, and as the game goes on, we’re ramping things up. On one level, I see that the team is fighting and pushing. On the other level, it’s where we have to really improve is moments of transition. You know, can we, you know, be better with the ball in certain parts of the field. Can we have an ability to put out fires when those fires come. And then, you know, so you think back to some of the goals that we’ve given up, or many of the goals this year, yeah, it’s certain moments of concentration and focus. That’s often times at the highest level with teams in any sport it’s how long can you endure those moments of total focus, which just leads to execution, a clearance, a final play, defending a set piece, a cross. It’s often a game of inches.
Listen, the way the guys are sticking together, the way they pushed this game, and we have a big chance late; if it’s 2-2, you feel really good about this. Yeah, it’s not just one thing. It’s everyone pulling a little more weight, all of us, to get the results that we need.
Q.I wanted to get your take on how Ayo took his goal today. You talked in the past about him being a bit of a rhythm player and wonder if you’re seeing that after a couple straight appearances from him.
Yeah, I’m happy for him because oftentimes it’s about confidence and for strikers, it’s about goals. So what I’ve seen from him, I’d say in the last few weeks and then few days where he is staying after training, working on finishing, hitting the back of the net, taking chances well, working hard in training, defending, pressing, I’ve seen a real hunger and focus in these last days, and Bill Manning told him yesterday he’s going to score a goal. He’s right, you can feel and sense that it was coming.
We hope, and like always, he’ll build on that. He’ll come back from the break and he’ll get more opportunities to put it to work. But he’s confident and sharp and I’m happy for him that he gets on the scoreboard.
Q.Understanding that the loss is very fresh and you’re going to go home and take a few days, but moving forward, what are the steps that you as a coaching staff need to take to, as you said, come back with a vengeance and kind of right the ship here?
I think you have to recognize where you can improve. So where is the opportunity and then what are you doing well.
Again, if you come here and give up five shots, zero shots — the guys didn’t have a ton, eight or nine shots on the day but it’s not easy with a team has a Santos, a Zelarayan, a Zardes, a Diaz, a Wright-Phillips coming in. It’s a big task.
So I think it’s just really important to be able to look clearly at things and be very honest and say, where are we giving up goals, where are we giving up chances, how did we tighten that and is it structural, is it intensity, is it focus, is it personnel. And then we move forward.
On the flipside, it’s important to take a real hard look at some good performances and the way we can move the ball fast and as much as they are trying to prevent, we are still able to get through at ease at moments and to create chances and how can we turn some of those good buildups into goals. Some little movements in the back, some final passes and decision-making. And if transition is something that’s getting us, can we just organize training and have guys be put in situations where they can slow down a little bit, stay on the ball, decision-making.
So yeah, we know that we are not an easy team to play against but we have hurt ourselves a bit, and it will be my job to take the hard look with my staff and put the guys in situations to succeed because we will. We will, partly because of what evident — what we have had with some of the guys and partly of who is coming back and who is healthy. We’ll take this time off in the right way and come back in a real way.
ALEJANDRO POZUELO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Q.Alejandro, can you tell us how good it felt to be back on the pitch again playing and how difficult was it to be watching for so long without being able to play?
Yeah, I feel very good. I worked a lot for play today because when I was injured, it’s like a bad injury. The doctor was a little bit scared. They said like eight, ten weeks, but I worked a lot with the physio, with ‘Chelo’, and I worked a lot to harder to be with the team as fast as possible. It’s difficult to see the team with injuries and on the TV. But like I said, I worked a lot to help the team and I’m very happy. I feel very good and — this is the most important — I feel good after the game. I need to be physically better but when I start playing more game for sure it’s good. But the most important, I don’t feel pain and we need to keep going.
Q.This team has gone through a lot having to relocate, all the injuries, including yourself, and now some problems with Jozy Altidore, what is the mood on the team now? Struggled to get wins and now headed into the international break. How do the players on the team feel right now?
We feel good. We protect the coach. I know the team likes the coach. I like the coach. What you said, a lot of difficult situations, like when we were in Toronto with the quarantine, after we needed to come back to Orlando, we played our way up home. A lot of bad situations, like a lot of injured players, about the quarantine, training and after training again, and this is the situation.
But now, we have like three weeks free to recover the people, to recover all the players, and we need to keep going. This is the mentality. We protect the coach. We know all the reasons we want this coach because he have good mentality and a good personality and he is very good guy, and personality, I protect him when he — if he stays here, because I like the style he plays. He wants to play, press higher, he wants to take the ball, and when he’s here, we need to protect him and all the players want him.
So we need to keep going, recover all the players, and look forward.
Q.From what you’ve seen, what’s your opinion as to why the team has struggled on the pitch to get results, aside from injuries?
Yeah, I said before, we have had a lot of bad situations, a lot of important players on the team including Mavinga with injuries, now Yeferson has come with injury. The situation we had, we come to Toronto where we have to be quarantine after start training and we come to Orlando, different weather, hot. A lot of difficult situations for the team, and we need to keep going like I said. Now we have more of the players ready and these three weeks free is very important us to get the players ready for the next part of the season.
Q.We didn’t get a chance yet to see you guys together but what are your thoughts on playing with Yeferson in training, if you have had that opportunity yet?
yeah, I want to play with good players, and he’s a good player. So I’m very, very happy to play with him because I know he can play. We can play together. He’s very smart player. He’s fast. He can play one-two with me or with Mike, with Marco. We have good team and we have good players and we need to look forward and we need to have personality and we need to keep working. The rest is coming.
In the second half, I think we played very good and we had a lot of chances and we played from behind. This is what we need. We need to have confidence. We need to play with passion, with personality and we need to keep going forward, yeah, for sure.
Q.Forgive me if you’ve addressed this already, but you’re just coming off the injury. What are your plans for the break? What are your plans or the time off? Are you going to take time off yourself or will you be in training for the most part?
No, I need to train. I need to prepare myself for after the three weeks. Like you know, my wife is pregnant. She is in Spain. I go to Spain for a few days. So I have time see my family, my kids. In one, two weeks, the third baby is coming. So I go see my family and time for recovery and after, I need to come back to play again to look forward. Yeah, I need to be ready.
ORLANDO CITY SC (1) – TORONTO FC (0) POST GAME SUMMARY
ORL – Tesho Akindele 12’ (Silvester van der Water)
TFC – Yeferson Soteldo 21’ (caution)
TFC – Auro Jr. 63’ (caution)
ORL – Tesho Akindele 77’ (caution)
Toronto FC 1-3-2 5 points
Orlando City SC3-0-3 12 points
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Richie Laryea, Omar González (Eriq Zavaleta 81’), Chris Mavinga, Kemar Lawrence; Michael Bradley (C), Auro Jr. (Jacob Shaffelburg 69’), Mark Delgado, Jonathan Osorio (Nick DeLeon 55’), Yeferson Soteldo; Jozy Altidore (Ayo Akinola 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Justin Morrow, Jayden Nelson, Ralph Priso, Patrick Mullins
ORLANDO CITY SC – Pedro Gallese; Kyle Smith, Antônio Carlos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson; Jhegson Méndez, Júnior Urso, Chris Mueller (Benji Michel 70’), Mauricio Pereyra(Alexander Alvarado 87’), Silvester van der Water (Andrés Perea 59’); Tesho Akindele (Joey DeZart 87’)
Substitutes Not Used: Brandon Austin, Michael Halliday, Rio Hope-Gund, Matheus Aiás, David Loera
CHRIS ARMAS – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q.It seemed like tonight you created chances against a good Orlando team but couldn’t finish them and on the other end you paid for one defensive let down. What do you take from the performance tonight?
I think we will be disappointed in the goal that we let up, but the attitude, the approach, the pressing, the commitment when we don’t have the ball, the ability to create chances, the structure, I think there’s a lot of positives.
What’s not so positive is the way we feel right now. The locker room is down, yeah. It’s a big effort. You want to get rewarded for the effort. On the night, disappointed but there’s some positives that we’ll just keep building on.
Q.You said earlier this week that goals were going to come for Soteldo and he did a lot play making and almost scoring tonight. Can you just give us a comment on the way he played?
Listen, I think — I’ve said it from day one because I watched a lot of Yeferson before he got here, that our league, our club, our supporters, the players, we should be really excited about him because he’s a guy that gets you on the edge of your seat because he can unbalance, he can unlock a 1v1 attack. It’s a very rare quality these days in a footballer. We thought he was dangerous all night long, getting in line, making plays, giving us chances to score.
He got really close on one. I don’t know if he gets blocked off the goal line in the first half but it’s going to keep getting better with him. I think it’s important he played 90 minutes and physically he’s coming along but we’re happy with him and he’s going to help us. He’s going to help us big time create and score goals.
Q.Obviously this is a very difficult Orlando team you were playing. They are just so solid defensively. But in terms of Urso and Mendez, how difficult did they make it for you guys today because it seemed like they were beasts in that central midfield for Orlando.
I don’t know, we had 20 shots, I think they had ten — it’s a good team. Defensively it’s such a good team. It’s maybe the most amount of shots we had all year.
We thought we could find spaces, create spaces wide. We thought we could move the ball. We thought we could put them in a fast game and those guys, they are a very athletic, powerful midfield and you can throw Pereyra in there as well.
But against a really good team, we thought we’d created chances and as the game went on, we thought we won the midfield. Yeah, I think those guys are credible and very athletic and a presence, but I think we put those guys in a hard game in central midfield.
Q.What was it like having fans in the stands for this match? I think we saw a bit of the energy that had been missed from playing in empty stadiums in tonight’s match.
We like the energy. And credit to Orlando and their organization, the fans. They make noise. They are knowledgeable. We thought it was a really good atmosphere. They come to see a performance and some entertainment. They got that tonight and they got to see their team win, but yeah, it was good energy in the building.
Q.You have two more games against Orlando coming up, how much are you guys looking forward to having another look at them after the way today’s game went?
Yeah, look, looking forward to next weekend. Roll out back out there against Columbus and keep improving, keep getting better. Keep getting better, keep getting guys healthy. I’m looking forward to the next game.
I won’t look too far ahead. Orlando is off to a good start this year. They are well-coached, and they have a good team. When we meet them again, we’ll look to win that one. But for now, it’s on to the next one.
Q.I know you wanted to restrict Osorio’s minutes on his return, but he looked to be in a bit of discomfort when he left. Is he okay?
Yeah, he was getting looked at after the game by the doctors. He had just a couple of soft tissue injuries this year. He’s just trying to get himself going so we’ll have to see was it just some cramps, fatigue, not sure yet what exactly but obviously an important piece for us and we’ve got to help him stay healthy because you know — he shows up in good spots, yeah, we’ve got to get him healthy here. We came into the game thinking 45 to 60 minutes. We got that. But we’ll take a look and see where he’s at.
Q.Wondering about Omar Gonzalez because he came out late. Was that injury-related? Precautionary? What can you say about that?
Just that Omar asked to come off. He gave us the substitution sign and I think it was just cramping with Omar. Hopefully that’s just the case but we had to make a change at that moment.
KEMAR LAWRENCE – DEFENDER, TORONTO FC
Q.What are your thoughts on the result tonight and how your team played?
I’m a guy that likes to be honest after the games, win or lose. I try to wait a little bit before I process everything through my mind, so it’s always a little bit harder to speak to media directly after the games to tell you exactly what I want to tell you.
But we created chances. We didn’t finish. That’s a part of the game. I know that will come with the quality we have and the depth we have. But for me it’s like we’ve got to be tighter in the back line in our field. That’s one of the hardest things with any team and that doesn’t come overnight. We have to be like really hard to play against, not give away any chances.
And if you think about it, they didn’t really create much. It’s just that one. You know, they got off and it’s 1-0 and this is football. This is how it goes. You only need one at times, and you walk away with three points.
Q.How difficult did Orlando make it for you guys? Obviously, you did have chances, but I mean they are a pretty well defensively organized team. How difficult was it to break them down?
To be honest it wasn’t that difficult because, well, we did, we got isolation out wide and we keep beating our man and when we got out wide, it was just that final pass or somebody making that killer run inside just to get a little foot on one of those crosses that was coming in. Their keeper made a couple of saves.
You know, so if you get chances, you can’t really say, you know, it was difficult to break them down if you understand what I mean. But they are a pretty solid team around there. I’ll give them that.
So there was a few difficulties, but as soon as we kind of kept our cool a little bit more around the ball, we figured out what we need to do and then our selection of passes got better as the game progressed.
Q.It’s early days, but how are you enjoying playing with Yeferson Soteldo?
It’s easy and clear. You can see both of us love football. We hate losing and we’re passionate. So it makes him eager to learn about me and it makes me more eager to learn about him. That way we can just play seamlessly. And so far, I feel like we’re doing that. I know where he wants the ball and I try to play him quick as possible but at the same time, I know some time he’s isolated with two or three guys. So then it gives me an option to pick a different pass, and when I pick a different pass, he comes off perfectly most times because he’s occupied by three guys or two guys. He leaves other people free on the field.
Q.How valuable and how important can nights be like this for a team that’s still coming together and figuring themselves out in terms of the information you get and the repetitions?
I said it in the locker room. We’re a bunch of intelligent guys, smart, not only players, but smart people in that locker room. I just said to the guys, if we started off winning every game, winning every single game for the year, then when you lose one and close to the playoffs or stuff like that, it’s more difficult to deal with. Whereas if you start off early, you learn from your mistakes right now. You build up the right way and you know what losing feels like and you know that hurts. You don’t want to go over it through it again and again. The players and coaches learn from it as well as the players and we progress as a team, not as individuals.
So nights like this are really valuable, especially me, it shows me what I need to do or who I need to back up a little bit more or touches I need to take. Like I said, as a footballer, I’m learning and I’m growing every day. There’s a lot to learn and a lot we’ve got to do this week coming up because we know going into Columbus, you know it’s not going to be any joke. They want their three points, especially since we just beat them a couple weeks ago. It’s going to be a rough one.
TORONTO FC (2) – VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (2) POST GAME SUMMARY
TOR – Luke Singh 7’
VAN – Cristian Dájome 55’ (PK)
VAN – Andy Rose 70’ (Cristián Gutiérrez)
TFC – Jonathan Osorio 83’
VAN – Cristián Gutiérrez 6’ (caution)
TFC – Michael Bradley 64’ (caution)
TFC – Omar González 70’ (caution)
Toronto FC 0-1-1 1 point
Vancouver Whitecaps FC1-1-0 4 points
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Richie Laryea, Omar González, Luke Singh, Auro Jr. (Jacob Shaffelburg 61’); Michael Bradley (C), Nick DeLeon (Jonathan Osorio 61’), Marky Delgado, Noble Okello (Ayo Akinola 78’), Jayden Nelson (Justin Morrow HT); Patrick Mullins (Jozy Altidore 61’)
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – Maxime Crépeau; Jake Nerwinski, Ranko Veselinović, Andy Rose, Cristián Gutiérrez; Déiber Caicedo (Derek Cornelius 87’), Janio Bikel (Caio Alexandre 75’), Michael Baldisimo (Bruno Gaspar 87’), Russell Teibert (C); Cristian Dájome (Ryan Raposo 90’+4’), Lucas Cavallini
Substitutes Not Used: Thomas Hasal, Evan Newton, Javain Brown, Patrick Metcalfe, Theo Bair
Luke Singh scored his first career MLS goal.
Jonathan Osorio has now scored in all nine seasons he has played with TFC (2013 – 2021)
Result marks Chris Armas’ first MLS point as head coach of Toronto FC.
CHRIS ARMAS – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q. I’m guessing those are two goals coming I guess from set pieces you think perhaps should not have been conceded. What were your thoughts about the goals that the team gave up today and also the overall performance?
Yeah, look, the players have put so much work into everything we’re doing around here that on a day like today where they come out, and against a team that’s coming off a big win against Portland, we get the lead, and now we feel like we’re in a pretty good situation. We just have to keep pushing the game and try to get that second goal, while we’re trying to mitigate counterattacks and set pieces. We knew this was their strength on the day.
So, yeah, I’d love for the players, all of us, just to get rewarded on the day, for the work, the way they showed up on the day but that’s not the case. Yeah, when you defend deep and you defend in a low block, let’s say, certain things become really important and now we talk about control in part of the field, really controlling our actions while we’re still stepping to plays.
Yeah, it’s disappointing that that one, yeah, for sure, a free kick set play, the other is a penalty, but yeah, that doesn’t — that makes it — that makes it hard to sit with us. So the good news is the guys made a real push at the end. They made a real push to get back into the game and maybe we leave on somewhat of a positive there.
Q. How nice was it for you to be able to put in Osorio, Akinola and Altidore, and what did you think of the way that they helped turn the game around for you guys to have that push?
I think they added something for sure. It’s good. It’s a big step for us. You know, Jozy back out there. Pat’s done a nice job but having Jozy as an option, there it’s a big step for him and our team.
Also, Singh, right, when he’s on the pitch, the football up the field gets easier. He’s able to bring people in and to understand the final third with quality, and you know, he’s going to — he’s going to keep pushing forward and help — help that part of thing.
Ayo, it’s been awhile, so we have to be thrilled that he’s back on the pitch being dangerous. He had a couple of good moments, even a near post run that’s really close.
The other one I would add is Jacob. Jacob’s shown he’s growing and he’s dangerous and he offered us speed on the flank. I think it’s a big plus for us. It’s still early in our season and we’re bringing — we’re talking about getting stronger each — each day, really, as guys come back in. On that note, it’s a positive and we thought all those guys helped make a real push at the end.
Q. Couple of big goals, Luke Singh scores his first as a professional, and Jonathan Osorio, goal. What are your reactions seeing the ball bounce around? Ever see a more beautiful goal?
Yeah, look, we talk a lot about urgency. Urgency on the pitch and none more than in each box. Specifically, that, call it 18 by 20, right. That 18 out, 20 yards wide. Can we have, you know, reactions to defend goals with more urgency, and that showed up on some plays today, although we set ourselves down in a few moments.
But on the attacking end, to think about the second ball, really anticipating and for that, it’s great. When it’s in the bounds, that shows that guys are hungry to score and anticipating and, you know, thrilled for those guys, especially Luke, getting his first in just his second game, right.
Q.Last week you talked about how the team just kind of came up second throughout the match, whether it was in tackles, duels, addles, whatever, just came up second the entire game. Just wondering today what you saw. Was it better on that front today?
It was better. We showed up on the day. The guys competed for sure. We saw a team on the front foot from the beginning. Right away we earn a corner kick in the first 20 seconds of the match. We’re pushing, in the run of play, we are fairly organized, and they get through a few times, you know, with you against Vancouver, it’s always about transition, right. So with Cavallini, and up the pitch Dajome, these guys are just good in transition, with Caicedo coming in, it challenges us if we want to play in the opposition’s half.
So that’s not a lack of intensity. It’s not a lack of focus. It’s just dealing with transition. And I’ll tell you what if we’re better with the ball up the field, of course counter pressing is something we rely on to win the ball back, but we had a lot of cheap giveaways up the field. So that stresses the back line.
No, I think the intensity, the approach to the game, the first goal, the way we pushed at the end showed we were up for it today. We just have to be sharper.
Q.Congratulations on your first point with Toronto FC.
Q.What happened there at the end? It seemed like tempers sort of flared or after the final whistle. Do you know what happened there? It seemed Teibert was upset. What did Marc say to you after the game was over?
We wished each other well. You know, I congratulated them on a good start to the season. He wished us well in the Champion’s League. It was just, you know, a warm coming together there. In terms of players, you’d have to ask them. You know, it’s a competitive game. Sometimes these games end like this, but it’s nothing much to talk about, I don’t think.
Q.It’s early in the season, you started along this path towards a new style in the preseason. Only four games under your belt, it’s a long journey to developing a new style but how far along the path to your vision are you seeing this club right now?
It’s early. It’s early for our team. Again, we’ve talked about some of our challenges physically early on. You can see we’re slowly getting fitter; we’re getting — the sharpness is going to come. I think you all tell me all the time, you know, asking about the Mavingas, the Jozys, the Pozuelos. It’s all going to come together.
What I do see and what I love most is a major commitment to what we are doing, and I see that because I know it poses challenge for us if we are going to play with intensity and be aggressive and stepping into plays and playing up the pitch, it sometimes leads to fouls and it leads to transition moments. I see a big commitment every day from these players and the entire staff. The whole crew here, it makes me happy, a couple of months in that we are — I think that we are playing more vertical. I think we are playing with more intensity and we are able to score and in the run of play we are not giving up a ton, even against Leon. We had some big challenges early on, some good opposition. Yeah, we’ve got to get back to work. There’s a lot of work to do. We’re early on in the process and we’ll get back to work starting tomorrow.
JONATHAN OSORIO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Q. Tell us about the goal you scored, one of the stranger ones imagine. How did it come to you?
Deflection, I have to see the replay, but I think it was Michael who tried to whip in a ball, and then it got deflected. I think one of their players tried to clear it, and I think maybe the spin on it, I don’t know, they had trouble with it and it ended up, you know, coming to me luckily and I just tried to get it on net as quick as possible. I actually didn’t hit it the best, but luckily it had enough to kind of, you know, I guess put the keeper off balance. Lucky enough the ball had the spin to get away from him and go in the net.
Q.Tell us how nice it felt to get back on the field again and maybe a thought on what you think of the new coach’s style of play and how your team is adapting to it?
Yeah, of course I think it’s great to be back on the pitch. The guys have seen how much it always bothers me when I’m not able to be available for the guys and try to help them. And also, after such a long time without playing, to wait a little bit longer because of injury, it was tough. But you know, I got myself right, and credit to the staff for helping me out and everything, you know, for little bumps in the road that happens in football, but I’m back and I’m happy for that.
As far as the coach’s playing style, I think we’re all bought in. We are all bought in. We believe in it, his philosophy. It’s going to take, you know, a little bit of time for us to really start getting it right. I think to think it’s going to go perfect from the first couple games would be, you know, naïve to think.
So we are learning about ourselves each game and learning more about how to impose ourselves in this — in this system, and you know, game by game, we are only going to get better.
Q.Big moment for Luke Singh early in the match, his first goal as a professional. Do you take a moment in that split second there to say something to him and what have you thought of the young guys stepping up and contributing early in this year?
Yeah, I think it’s great for the coaches putting faith and giving these young guys chances in really big games. You saw them play in the Champion’s League getting good results, and then to start the season, it’s great for the kids. They are only going to learn every time they step on the pitch. They are only going to get better and for Luke, he’s done so well for a guy that has been patient, patiently waiting for his time, and he was with us for — while we were in Hartford last year, and it’s paying off, his patience, and working, his work ethic. You know, amazing to see a young kid like that get his first goal in only his third game, I think.
He’s got a bright future as well as all these other young players on our team. I think we are all very excited to see where their careers — how far they can go.
Q.Curious from your perspective what you saw from Vancouver today in terms of they went down early but then battled back nicely and had you guys on the back foot a little bit. What did they do right to make things uncomfortable for you?
Welcome back, John. Good to have you back with us.
Vancouver, this is a team that believes in themselves, and you saw that last game, last week getting the win, and this is a team that’s ran on confidence, I think. This is a fresh start for them I think, and they are riding that. You saw that in the game, going down a goal, they didn’t stop. They kept going, and yeah, I think we’re going to see a different Vancouver this season and credit to them.
But nonetheless, I still think that our team feels that we should have come out from this game for a lot more. I don’t think we’re satisfied with only getting a point.
Q.Quick turnaround. How do you switch your focus?
Very easily, now we put our focus on them. They either played today or play later today, I’m not sure. I know they play today, so we are going to have to watch that game and see, you know, kind of plan for them and see what we are up against. We know we are up against a really big opponent, really big team in México, a team that’s doing very well in the League. You know, it’s going to be a tough match, but something this club is always up for. It’s competition. It puts out, you know, great games and great quality, and you’re always putting out against the best in the continent, and as a player, that’s the kind of games that you want to be a part of.
So, easy. We put this to the side now for now and we look forward to Tuesday starting now.
Q. It was pretty hot from what we understand. Are you used to the heat and humidity, or is it still difficult conditions to play in?
I don’t think you can ever get used to the heat totally. Are we — I think now it’s not like — it’s not really a shock for us when we play. We’ve trained in temperatures like today now. But the heat is the heat and it’s going to affect your body. It’s not really the same as, you know, as if you train in altitude for a long time. It’s a little bit different.
So the heat is the heat. It is what it is. It’s not an excuse, and I think little by little, we will mentally and physically be stronger to cope with whatever the temperature is.