TORONTO – For many, Toronto FC’s final two league games of the season seem like just a matter of playing out the schedule. But for attacker Ryan Johnson & Co., they are challenges that carry a whole lot of meaning.
“I think it’s a test of a player’s character how they approach every individual game no matter what it is,” Johnson said. “So for me, personally, I approach every game as though they are all important.”
The Reds, who are out of the playoffs for a fifth straight year, have been on a two-week break. But they’ll finally set foot on the pitch again when they visit Philadelphia on Saturday (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online), and follow that up with a home game against New England on Oct. 22 to finish their schedule.
With pride and likely jobs for next year on the line, Johnson said every player on TFC has to leave everything out on the field.
“You know the coaches are watching to see how you react,” Johnson said. “What are your mannerisms? Are you a player that they can depend on even if the games don’t necessarily mean very much? These are things that we can take into the off-season and into next season.
“These are ways you can show the coaching staff and the fans and the management that you are a player that wants to be here and takes playing for Toronto seriously.”
While Toronto's MLS campaign will close with the end of the regular season, they’re hoping they can still make waves on the CONCACAF Champions League front.
The Reds will travel to Frisco, Texas, to take on Group C rivals FC Dallas next week and search for a victory to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.
“It’s huge,” said Johnson, who has two goals and two assists in 10 league games since joining Toronto on July 14 in a trade with the San Jose Earthquakes. “I haven’t played in a game this big since going into the conference finals last year with San Jose.
“It’s nice when you get these kinds of games every year where a lot rides on it. You think about it weeks in advance. But I’m not looking past Philadelphia. You want to have a good performance going into games like [the one at Dallas].”