It rained throughout a Toronto FC coaching session in Florida on Friday, however captain Michael Bradley mentioned TFC is residence and dry because the membership prepares to open the MLS is Again match in opposition to D.C. United on Sunday morning.
“None of this stuff phases us,” mentioned Bradley, when requested how the group was doing in COVID-19 plagued Florida, with constructive check chaos seemingly round each nook. “We got here (on Monday) and the first 12-18 hours everybody was in their room as we awaited the first test results. And since then we’ve settled into a good routine of training. We’ve really stuck to ourselves and have spent time on our floor with each other. We found a good routine and we’re excited as the game gets closer.”
The Reds have been three days late arriving to Orlando for the MLS is Again match when a member of the crew’s journey celebration got here down with “symptoms” final weekend. As a result of the membership traveled late, Toronto’s first sport on the match was modified from Friday to Sunday. But it surely’s the time change of the primary match that’s not splendid. Toronto’s first sport is now at 9 a.m., one thing Bradley known as “a shame.”
“When you talk about wanting to bring the league back, wanting to bring games back in a moment like this, obviously the hope is there are a lot of people watching and you want to feel that the product on display is as close to the highest level as possible,” he mentioned. “And when you think about what a 9 a.m. game in Orlando at this time year is going to mean in terms of the weather and the humidity, I’m not sure makes a ton of sense.”
On prime of that, due to the schedule change, the Reds solely have three days between its first two matches. After the D.C. United match on Sunday, TFC faces 401 Derby rival Montreal Influence on Wednesday. However Bradley believes that the golf equipment with the “strongest mentality” shall be in the very best form to succeed and he feels his crew has that in abundance. The MLS is Again match — which shall be performed at ESPN Extensive World of Sports activities Advanced within the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake — will function a gaggle stage, which can depend towards the 2020 MLS common season standings, adopted by knockout rounds. The match champion will qualify for the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League and the 2020 season is scheduled to renew upon completion of the match.
“Everybody’s just really excited about getting back to playing,” mentioned Bradley. “So when that whistle blows on Sunday morning, I think you’re going to see a group of guys and a team that is ready to go for it and really excited to be back on the field together. We’re going to enjoy every part of that.”
Bradley hasn’t performed for the reason that MLS Cup Last on Nov. 10 in Seattle. He injured his ankle in that match and underwent surgical procedure in January and missed TFC’s first two video games of the 2020 season earlier than MLS closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For me it’s been a long time, too long without a game, so I’m really excited,” he mentioned. “When you talk about D.C. as an opponent … they’re always organized. They always compete hard. It’s never an easy game. Even in certain moments when their backs are up against the wall, they still find ways to make games difficult. The playoff game last year at BMO Field was a great example. It didn’t look like they had much going and it looked like we had things under control and they were able to find an equalizer right at the end and push us to the brink a little bit. We have respect for them.”
TFC confronted D.C. United on Oct. 19 in spherical one of many 2019 MLS Cup playoffs and appeared to be cruising to victory when D.C. United scored the equalizer within the third minute of second-half stoppage time, earlier than the Reds broke out for 4 objectives within the first half of additional time to win 5-1.
TFC defender Justin Morrow, as regular, shall be counted to assist his membership rise to the event on Sunday in opposition to D.C. United. Morrow can be a key member of the Black Gamers for Change group. In a strong assertion within the struggle for social justice, the group lined up throughout the principle area on the ESPN Extensive World of Sports activities Advanced earlier than the kick off of the primary MLS is Again match on Wednesday, between Orlando Metropolis SC and Inter Miami CF. Morrow was joined by TFC GM Ali Curtis and different members of the Reds’ employees. The demonstration lasted eight minutes and 46 seconds in a tribute to George Floyd.
“I’m so proud to be able to stand out there with Ali, Jason Bent and Samra Habtom. He’s been doing an incredible job since the death of George Floyd leading this club on racial issues and tackling racial inequality and what are going to be the next steps moving forward and a big initiative,” mentioned Morrow of Curtis.
“He’s led that not only with TFC, but league wide. He’s making sure that TFC has a leadership role in these initiatives.”
TFC coach Greg Vanney expressed some deep concern concerning the COVID-19 state of affairs earlier than the Reds headed to Florida however mentioned he and the gamers really feel comfy.
“I feel like we’re in a good place,” mentioned Vanney. “Diligence is the name of the game for us, to wear our masks, to stay in our own rooms, to only really engage with each other at the right moments in the right ways, leave the other teams be and let them do their thing. Our team is very good at that.”
Vanney believes the depth of his membership could also be key on Sunday’s opening match.
“We’ll have to utilize our depth,” he mentioned. “We believe we have a deep team and we’ll have to find good ways to manage our roster. It helps us that we have five substitutions. Obviously this being going to be the first game that we’ve played in months, it’s going to be a challenge for guys.”