Here are some news and notes from Tuesday’s practice at the club’s training facility in Downsview.
THE LESSON LEARNED FROM ATLANTA GAME
What did TFC learn from Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home against the expansion Atlanta United FC, a game in which the Reds outplayed the visitors for large stretches?
Coach Greg Vanney feels the big takeaway was that TFC needs to be more efficient – the Reds outshot and created more chances than Atlanta, but only came away with a point after switching off on both goals by the first-year club.
“I still think there are a few more occasions when we need to recognize the possibility of creating more quality moments. Second, some of our not-so-great moments are still too low – the goals we give up, the times when we turn over the ball in our half that we shouldn’t,” Vanney said.
“We have to eliminate those things and find a higher medium in terms of the bottom side of our choices and our actions, and continue to build on the quantity of our high moments.”
WORLD CUP BUZZ IN TFC CAMP
Soccer officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States held a news conference on Monday afternoon in New York where they announced a joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
That news was welcomed with great enthusiasm by a number of TFC’s Canadian and American players.
“I’m excited. I hope it goes well and our country can [co-host] the World Cup. I think that’d be huge for our country and our sport,” enthused midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who has 16 caps for Canada.
Canada will stage 10 games if the bid is successful, the same amount as Mexico, while the U.S. will host 60 matches.
“Even if it’s one game, it’ll have a huge impact. It’s a World Cup. Ten games are still a lot of games. It’s good for the country. It’s better than nothing, and to just be a part of it would be really special,” Osorio opined.
Captain Michael Bradley, a veteran of the U.S. national team, feels that FIFA will have a very hard time overlooking the joint North American bid.
“When you talk about the World Cup and its history and what it means for everybody in our game across the world every four years, the potential to have it right here is something very special. For me, it’s even more [special] as an American, but now having made Toronto my home, I’m able to see first-hand how special [Canada is]. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Bradley offered.
The fact that Bradley more than likely won’t compete for the U.S. in the 2026 World Cup doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the North American bid to land the tournament.
“Never say never,” quipped Bradley, who turns 39 in the summer of 2026.
BRADLEY ON MAPLE LEAFS IN PLAYOFFS
“How’d the Leafs do tonight?”
That was the question Bradley asked reporters as he dressed into his street clothes in front of his locker room stall after Saturday’s game. When told that the Leafs won and that they clinched a playoff berth, a small smile crossed his face, before more questions came – “Who got the late goals for the Leafs?” and “They play Washington in the first round, right?”
This year marks the first time the Maple Leafs will play in the Stanley Cup playoffs since Bradley, a big hockey fan, signed with TFC in 2014.
“You don’t need to be here long to get a sense for what a unique sports scene there is in this city. … The biggest demographic isn’t fans of one team, but rather Toronto sports fans,” Bradley said.
“In the last few years when you see the success that there’s been across the board, and then the support and the passion that goes with it, it’s incredible… I’m very excited for the Leafs. I know we’re all proud of them and be watching them very closely.”
Vanney also weighed in: “Like soccer, playoff hockey has a different level, a different speed and a different intensity. I’m looking forward to how this young Leafs team transforms and meets the challenge of playoff hockey.”
A Toronto native, Osorio has also followed the Leafs’ progress this season — he attended Sunday’s regular season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets — and he’s been impressed with Toronto rookie Auston Matthews.
“From watching him, you can tell he’s very talented … He plays with a finesse which I really like,” Osorio said.
MORGAN CLOSE TO RETURNING
After sitting out the entire season thus far while recovering from foot surgery, Canadian defender Ashtone Morgan could return to full training by next week.
TFC’s longest serving player, Morgan, who debuted for the club in 2011, was limited last season to just seven league appearances totalling 157 minutes, mostly due to injury problems.
“He’s right there, and our hope is by next week he’ll be all in,” Vanney said.
Vanney also confirmed that when Morgan does come back he’ll play a few games with the farm club, TFC 2, as part of his comeback.
“I think that’s important because he’s missed virtually the entire pre-season at this point. To build him up in terms of game minutes and game fitness, that will be a part of the process,” Vanney explained.
QUICK LOOK AHEAD TO SATURDAY
Saturday marks the first in a trio matches between TFC and the Crew this season, will all three encounters coming in the next few weeks – the teams will meet again on May 10 in Columbus and May 26 in Toronto.
TFC took the season series last year, with one win and a pair of draws.
“Columbus is Columbus – they’re not entirely different from what they’ve been the last two years. They love to have the ball, they want to try to get you to spread put and then play between you with their movement and rotations,” Vanney said.
After the Columbus trip, the Reds return home for three consecutive home games at BMO Field vs. the Chicago Fire (April 21), Houston Dynamo (April 28) and Orlando City (May 3).