A memorable Champions League run aside, it has been a frustrating and failure of a year for Toronto FC. Goaltending has been an issue, injuries have played a big factor and defense has been the biggest letdown.
Just one year ago they set the bar, statistically becoming the best MLS team ever en route to winning the franchises first MLS Cup. But this season they find themselves on the outside looking in, out of a playoff spot and heading into a downward spiral.
“We had a year last year where from the very first game to the very last game the mentality was we were relentless and we weren’t going to let anything stop us and we knew it was going to be hard but we were ready to be harder,” said TFC captain Michael Bradley. “Through 27 league games this year, it’s not even been close, not even close.”
Toronto’s playoff hopes took a big hit following the loss on Saturday night to Los Angeles FC. TFC looked awful and would lose the game 4-2, but to add insult to injury the Montreal Impact, the team they’re chasing down for the final playoff spot won their match and extended their lead to nine points.
Nobody has looked more frustrated over the course of this season than Bradley who day in and day out gives it his all for the club, but his teammates have not stepped up. On Saturday, after the loss to LA who is coached by his father Bob, Michael was visibly upset.
“You run out of things to say,” said Bradley. “Champions League aside this year we have not had enough people in this club from the top all the way down to the bottom everybody is included we have not had enough people who have understood how hard it was going to be, what it was going to take to navigate through another season where we had to play every week like our lives depended on it.”
With seven games remaining it is do or die for Toronto. The team has a two-week break before their next match against the LA Galaxy. The two-week break couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We’ve got seven games left to go obviously our margin for error is probably zero you may need to win seven games if not six,” said Bradley. “We’ve got two weeks now to see if we can regroup.”
“It’s still there for us, but the margin for error is gone. We’ve got to regroup for these last seven games and find a way to tilt the bar in our favour.” – captain Michael Bradley#TFCLive | #TORvLAFC pic.twitter.com/OhgPe8vPuK
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) September 2, 2018
The coaching staff needs to sit down with the defense – which has been poor all season – over these next two weeks and figure out a game plan. TFC also needs to figure out who will be in goal with the team stuck between Alex Bono and Clint Irwin, while Jonathan Osorio gets some time to rest an ailing hip.
Forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore who have been the only hope as of late get a much needed and deserved break. On the plus side, they even get a chance to work more with newcomer Lucas Janson who has looked right at home when he has played with Giovinco and Altidore.
The stakes are high for Toronto. Down the stretch, it is going to be a tough run, a run where the team can’t afford any mistakes.
“It’s still there for us,” said Bradley. “The most disappointing part for me is that again just in terms of understanding how difficult it was going to be this year in terms of being ready in every way to embrace the challenge again to double down on our commitment on our motivation on our drive on our determination we’ve not even come close.”
Bradley is clearly frustrated and should be as the team captain. He is the face and leader of the team. Seven games left, it can be done. If the team does make the playoffs they can go on a run, but for now, the team has to take it one game at a time.