TORONTO – Michael Bradley will not start the 2020 MLS season for Toronto FC.
As preseason got underway, it was announced on Monday that the midfielder will undergo surgery Tuesday in New York City on an unspecified ankle injury suffered in November. The injury will see Bradley miss the next four months of action.
The disappointment at losing their captain ahead of the kickoff to the 2020 campaign, one where they were looking to build on the momentum that saw them reach MLS Cup in 2019, was palpable at the BMO Training Ground, though it will not dampen their enthusiasm for the opener on February 29.
“We move like we've been moving,” maintained forward Jozy Altidore. “This is a team with a lot of high level players. We've done a good job of making sure we always have depth. This will be another hurdle for us.
“But make no mistake: in my opinion it was handled poorly,” he added. “This is an injury from two months ago. And it's not the first time this has happened: we've seen our injury rate at this club since ‘18. And we're obviously trying to get it better, but it hasn't and two months have gone by and now he's having surgery to be out to June.”
“I don't know [if it was misdiagnosed], but, like I said, I don't think it's good enough,” concluded Altidore. “He's a guy that takes care of himself in an incredible way, professionally pushes himself and the group, holds everybody to a high standard. I think he was let down.”
The club only found out that Bradley would have to seek such treatment two days before revealing it publicly.
“Obviously it's a big blow,” said head coach Greg Vanney. “Michael’s captain of our team, has been an important part of our team. He's one of those omnipresent guys in the defensive midfield, whenever he's around he's on the field. So, we will for sure miss him. It'll be time for somebody else to step up.”
Asked about Altidore’s disgruntlement, Vanney was unconcerned: “Jozy has his opinions.”
The severity and prognosis of Bradley’s situation was not a surprise to Vanney, who saw his daughter, a gymnast, struggle with a similar injury.
“It's not easy to find,” explained Vanney, outlining why it was not evident until the lack of progress required further examinations. “It's an injury where you feel like you can pretty much do everything, but there's something that just tells you it's not right: a little bit of an annoyance and a pain
“You can be at 95 percent and feel like everything is good, but that last 5 percent just doesn't feel right,” he continued. “The problem is you're not going to get over it and it's going to make things worse. And so you have to deal with it. That's what he's doing now.”