Toronto FC notebook: Bloom out injured, Morrow day-to-day


Mark Bloom in action for Toronto FC. (Mark Blinch/CP)

Toronto FC was back in training on Tuesday ahead of its road game against the Philadelphia Union this weekend.

Here are some news and notes from today’s practice at the club’s training facility in Downsview.

Houston: Missed opportunity or a point gained?
Sunday could have been a historical day for Toronto FC. Instead, the Reds were left frustrated and wondering what could have been.

After New York City FC was held to a draw by the Columbus Crew on Saturday, TFC had the chance to set a new franchise record with its fifth straight win in Major League Soccer, and climb to first place in the Eastern Conference, a position they’ve never held this late in the regular season.

Mother Nature didn’t co-operate with TFC, as heavy rain and lightning in Houston forced a postponement, and the game was rescheduled for Sunday evening. The next day, the Dynamo were reduced to 10 men just before halftime after Abdoulie Mansally was red carded, but Toronto couldn’t take advantage of its numerical superiority and settled for a 1-1 draw.

So, was this a missed opportunity by TFC against a short-handed Houston side that is one the worst teams in MLS? Or was it a valuable point gained in a league where only one club this season has a winning record on the road?

Coach Greg Vanney sees it both ways.

“It’s a missed opportunity in that [they had 10 men] for half of the game … in the first half, we were a little sluggish; I thought we weren’t good in anticipation and a little bit behind [the pace of the game],” Vanney said after Tuesday’s practice.

But Vanney also said that all things considered—with the 24-hour delay, the humidity, and losing two players early in the game (more on that in a second)—it wasn’t a bad result.

“I didn’t think it was our best performance, but we still walked away with a point from Houston. … The [important] thing is to keep taking these points; on the road it’s never easy,” Vanney said.

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By all accounts Toronto’s locker room was pretty sombre after Sunday’s game.

The players were visibly frustrated that they could only get a draw against 10-man Houston, and that a chance to go first in the East slipped through their fingers.

Vanney believes their disappointment is actually a good sign, as it raises expectations among the players.

“The frustration was with us wanting to be in first place. This group is working hard to set the standard in the Eastern Conference, and we just didn’t make it happen. But I like that they’re upset with that. I’m perfectly content that the guys weren’t happy,” Vanney said.

Bloom out, Morrow day-to-day
Vanney made two first-half substitutions in Houston, as defenders Mark Bloom and Justin Morrow had to come out of the game. Bloom suffered an ankle sprain on a tackle by Houston’s Abdoulie Mansally. Morrow twisted his back.

While Morrow is considered day-to-day and remains a possibility for this weekend, Vanney confirmed that Bloom has been ruled out for Saturday’s visit to Philadelphia. TFC’s coach did not give any timeline as to when Bloom might be able to return.

Bloom left the team after Sunday’s contest in Texas to fly home to Florida in order to be with his wife—she gave birth to the couple’s second child, a daughter, on Saturday. Vanney said Bloom will fly back to Toronto and rejoin the team on Wednesday.

More injury updates
Will Johnson (bone fracture) hasn’t played since June 30, but the Canadian midfielder was on the bench in Houston, and he is expected to return to action this weekend in Philadelphia.

Starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin remains sidelined with a quadriceps injury he picked up in a game on June 25. Vanney said Irwin continues to improve and should return sometime over the next two weeks.

Midfielder Benoit Cheyrou is still injured and won’t play this weekend. The Frenchman has missed the Reds’ last four games with a hamstring problem. Vanney said the hope is for Cheyrou to be ready to play again when the team concludes its current three-game road trip.

Daniel Lovitz played for TFC II, the club’s farm team that competes in the third-tier USL, on the weekend as part of his recovery program. The young midfielder has been out with a knee injury and last played for the Reds in MLS on May 28—he’s missed the last 11 league games in a row.

Vanney confirmed that Lovitz has returned to full training and is once again available for selection.

Right fullback Steven Beitashour missed the game in Houston due to a hip problem. The Iranian international trained on Tuesday, and Vanney said that as long as he continues to progress positively he should be back for this weekend.

Forward Jozy Altidore (hamstring), captain Michael Bradley (knee) and Canadian defender Ashtone Morgan (toe) have all returned to action in recent weeks following lengthy injury layoffs.

Looking ahead to Philly
Toronto FC will try to extend its unbeaten streak to six games when it travels to the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday.

Philadelphia (9-8-7) sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, three points and two spots behind Toronto (10-7-7) in the table. Forward Chris Pontius leads the Union in goals (10) and assists (five) this season.

TFC is 5-6-4 all-time against Philadelphia in MLS action. The previous meeting between the Reds and the Union was Oct. 3, 2015 when Toronto earned a 3-1 win at home. This is first of two games between the clubs this season—they’ll meet again on Sept. 24 at BMO Field.

After visiting Philadelphia, the Reds wrap up their three-game road swing vs. Orlando City (Aug. 24) and then return home to host the Montreal Impact (Aug. 27).

NOTE: I’ll have feature stories on Jozy Altidore and Daniel Lovitz later this week for


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