Toronto FC marked the official start of a new era last month as Chris Armas finally got to begin training as the team's newest head coach. With a little more than a week under his belt, he and the squad seem to be gelling well.
"I've been so happy to see the commitment from the team from the very first training session to the attentiveness in the video sessions," Armas told members of the media Tuesday, "[and] the commitment as a whole from the group as we're trying to implement some new ways of playing."
Armas noted the feeling appears to be mutual.
"I think there could be a hunger for some more intensity and how we want to play with and without the ball, it's been received well," he said. "I can see it in training and I think on some levels, the demands are high and again, I would say that's been impressive with the group."
It comes as no surprise that the players have high demands. Armas' Toronto squad has so far experienced very little roster turnover, and he has therefore inherited a group of players used to being part of one of MLS' best teams. In his short time with the players, Armas is already noticing the team dynamic, which he said involves the club's top players like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore "driving the internal messages to the players."
The group, though, is still without a few key pieces. Armas said Nick DeLeon and Auro are completing quarantine before they join their teammates, and that Ayo Akinola needs to be medically cleared before he can do the same. Armas, though, did mention that the team is hoping he will be cleared by mid-March.
Additionally, the group is without forwards Tsubasa Endoh and Ifunanyachi Achara through long-term injuries. Armas currently does not have a timeline on either, and with Achara, who tore his ACL in July, emphasized the importance of not rushing his recovery.
"He's progressing really well," Armas said, "but we have to take that one step by step and not skip anything in the process because we need him to come back and not look back."