0831 TOR Hope

Toronto FC’s Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoff chances took a blow Wednesday evening.

Hosting former head coach Greg Vanney’s LA Galaxy at BMO Field, Toronto scored a pair of second-half goals to take a 2-1 lead and were close to securing a crucial three points. However, former FC Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig launched a screamer in the 89th minute – his first goal in MLS – to salvage a 2-2 draw and steal a point away for the visitors.

"Nobody is giving up"

Wednesday will feel like two points left on the table for the Reds, and with just five matches remaining the result stings even more, especially considering Toronto are in 10th place, two points back of a playoff spot, but have played a game or two more than each of the teams they’re contending with in the Eastern Conference table.

Head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley was left disappointed with the result, but refused to concede that making the postseason was out of reach.

“Those are questions you get asked, those are things that get written, social media, but a group has to have a strong mentality,” said Bradley to the media after the match. “And if you have a night where you think you have a chance for three points and you don’t, then everybody comes in there angry, disappointed, frustrated.

“ … In this last stretch of games, you see the football getting better, you see the mentality getting better,” Bradley continued. “The part of becoming a good team, it [doesn’t] always fall into place so easily. It’s tough nights, sometimes it takes a season – but nobody is giving up on this one.”

Spanish striker Jesús Jiménez, who scored his first goal since June 29 in the draw, echoed his manager’s thoughts when asked if he still believed the team can make the playoffs.

“Yeah, I believe so because we have some points to grab,” Jiménez said. “We still can make the playoffs. If we win two games, we can get closer to the playoffs. So, we will continue fighting until the end and we will see what we're going to get.”

Running out of time

Since the arrival of Italian internationals Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, Toronto’s form has drastically improved. The Reds have lost just once in eight matches (4W-3D-1L) since the duo made their debut. However, the late surge may prove to be too little too late.

With the season winding down, there aren’t many points Toronto can continue to afford to drop as the 2017 MLS Cup champions will shift their attention to Sunday’s Canadian Classique vs. rivals CF Montréal (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN in Canada) – a match that must be perceived as a must-win.

After Montréal, TFC will face three teams they’re directly competing with for a playoff spot – Atlanta United and Orlando City SC away and Inter Miami CF at home – before wrapping the regular season up with an away date against Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union on Decision Day (Oct. 9).

But as the old cliché goes, they’re taking it one game at a time and the focus remains on Sunday’s match.

“Now we just have to see what it takes to get three points against Montréal and what would three points do for us as we get into the last part [of the season],” Bradley concluded.