TORONTO – For fans who love a good battle in midfield, Toronto FC’s 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps was a thing of beauty.
In a match where the trio of Matias Laba, Nigel Reo-Coker and Pedro Morales posed the biggest threat on paper to the home side, it was the combination of Michael Bradley and Collen Warner that saw Toronto control the flow and tempo of a match that featured plenty of long passing, smart off-the-ball movement and quickfire bursts forward from both Canadian outfits.
It’s this combination of Warner and Bradley that left TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen gushing after the game.
“Warner was the best player on the park.” Nelsen said, after the match. “He was absolutely fantastic. The amount of work he did without the ball, and his passing, which was fantastic – in all honesty, I think he was head and shoulders the best player on the park.”
“Michael did great,” Nelsen added. “I think there’s still that kind of feeling each other out in a way. With how the team is going we kind of had this rhythm and now Michael’s in and it’s the first time he’s played with Collen properly. Now he’s back and we’re just getting used to each other. The great thing is, the more he plays and trains with the team, since he was away for so long, the better the chemistry will be.”
While Bradley and Toronto continue looking for wins with games in hand, the US midfielder explained that, sometimes, a point is good enough.
“In this league, a point is always valuable,” Bradley said. “On the days where you’re not able to get the win and pick up all three, to be able to stay solid at the back and not concede and just know the days when you take your point and move on is important.
“You could certainly tell that, coming off of a stretch that hasn’t been so hot for them, they were now very determined to come in and make sure that, at the very least, they came away with a point,” Bradley continued. “It says a lot about [our] group when you come in on a night like this and nobody’s all that happy with a point.”
This game also marked the first 90-minute game for Bradley since returning from his World Cup journey, and the US midfielder says he’s feeling fully fit once more.
“I felt good, very good,” Bradley said. “Obviously I played 60 minutes against D.C. but anytime you miss a little bit, or even if you’re just out a few days in training, you miss it, so to be back out on the field feels great. Any time you go through a stretch where there’s games, there’s travel, there’s more games, there’s more travel, your body just needs a little chance to kind of catch up.”
While Bradley is feeling fit, Toronto FC has another round of injuries to deal with after this encounter. Mark Bloom picked up an MCL injury during the game, though the defender told MLSsoccer.com he was at least happy that it wasn’t an ACL tear. Jackson also came off with a hamstring injury and Steven Caldwell’s scan results indicated a big quad tear that could see him sidelined for at least one month.