TORONTO—There were a lot of reasons to think Toronto FC didn’t stand much of a chance to get a result in Colorado on Sunday night.
Playing the defending MLS Cup champion on the road, at altitude, on just three days of rest and at the end of their fifth cross-continent road trip of the season thus far, the Reds had a lot of strikes against them.
Yet, the Reds managed to hold on to a professional and stingy scoreless draw, earning just the second road point of the season away from the comforts of BMO Field.
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With three regulars – Julian de Guzman, Jacob Peterson and Tony Tchani-- out by suspension or injury there were even some in Toronto that were suggesting that head coach Aron put out a reserve lineup so that the club was rested for Wednesday’s Nutrilite Canadian Championship final.
That was never going to happen, says fullback Richard Eckersley.
“We have to take things game by game,” the former Manchester United man told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve been a bit unlucky lately not getting the results. It was nice to get the result tonight.”
Eckersley said that the tough road schedule for Toronto so far – the club has already played this year in Vancouver twice, Seattle, San Jose and even in Edmonton for the NCC – has actually been a benefit for the club.
“We’re all in it together,” he said. “We all want to help one another and, I think, all the time that we have spent on the plane has helped us come together as a group. We’re always joking and the spirit is high.”
Also beneficial to improved play lately has been a more consistent lineup at the back, which has featured Eckersley regularly. Against Colorado, he was influential force both going forward and at the back. Winter agreed that his performance versus the Rapids may have been his best of the year.
“He played very well,” Winter said. “You could see (when) he came to us that he was not as (fit) as he is now and each game (since), he is doing well.”
With the Colorado result in the books, Toronto can now fully focus on Wednesday’s Voyageurs Cup final against Vancouver. Eckersley says the chance of getting a result against their Canadian rivals is motivating the players.
“It’s a chance at silverware,” said Eckersley, who won a League Cup with Manchester United.” It doesn’t matter how big the cup is, you always want to go out and win silverware.”