TORONTO – Just as every cloud has a silver lining, so too does every success arrive at some cost.
Toronto FC won their first home playoff match on Wednesday night by a 3-1 scoreline over the Philadelphia Union, kicking off the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs in style.
But the sweetness of that victory was spoiled by two separate incidents that could come back to haunt the club as the postseason continues.
There is no doubt it was a combative, physical affair, but in no way did it ever get nasty. Aside from some minor shoving between Jonathan Osorio and C. J. Sapong in the opening minute, the temperature was barely raised above a simmer, let alone a boil.
“It's a playoff game, it's hard, it's fast, there's contact and there's fouls... I ended up with an early yellow card,” said Bradley after the game, who was not enamored with the referee's decision to show four yellow cards – two to each side – in the opening frame.
“[It's] not ideal, but not the first time. You still have to play, still have to compete,” continued Bradley. “There are certain plays where you know you have to be a little extra careful, but you can't let it change who you are. Going forward, it's something to think about, but it can't change what you're about.”
With at least two more games in their playoff future, and the Eastern Conference Semifinal against New York City FC set to start on Sunday, two of TFC's Designated Players will have to tread a fine line. Another booking in the Conference Semifinal or, potentially, in the first leg of the Conference Championship will see them suspended for a match.
As Bradley said, his and Altidore's predicament is not ideal.
“It has to be something that we're aware of,” cautioned Greg Vanney. “We've got to deal with it. I thought Michael's came awfully quick in the game; that was a little harsh. But we've got to work with it, the rules are the rules.”
“It's unfortunate that we have the extra game, especially a game of this type of intensity,” added Vanney, referring to the match vs. Philadelphia. “It is what it is, those guys will be smart.”