Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney hopes new training regime can keep team healthy down the stretch

TORONTO – In a rare Sunday afternoon match up, against Chivas USA (3 pm ET, UniMas; MLS Live in Canada), Toronto FC are pulling no punches.

Michael Bradley has even called the TFC faithful to arms in a video, in an effort to get his team to rally for three points.

He’ll have reinforcements, too.

Previously injured defender Steven Caldwell and midfielder Jonathan Osorio are available for selection against Chivas USA, though Collen Warner and Bradley Orr are out with mild injuries. Jermain Defoe will also miss out, and is set to return to Toronto FC camp on Monday after flying to the UK to see a specialist for a nagging groin injury.

But with seven games to go in the season, Vanney is working hard to make sure he gets his team as healthy as possible. He’ll need as many fit players as he can get in order to guide his team back into a playoff spot. That comes down to smart preparation before a match.

“I think it’s a matter of proper training,” Vanney said, of how to get his team fit and keep them healthy. “It’s also connecting our “prehab”, as we call it – what we do before training and how the guys prep for training all the way through every piece of their performance training to what they do on the fields and what they do in recovery, all that kind of stuff.”

In addition to a new approach the training, Vanney has also brought in a new coaching staff, including a new assistant coach in Dan Calichman, former captain of the LA Galaxy and a United States international defender. 

“As I was a young defender, [Calichman] was the leader,” Vanney said, of his time as a player in LA. “I learned a lot from him defensively. He had a pretty horrific injury that stunted his career. He’s been coaching at many levels since, from older youth to college to working with pros. But he’s, for me, a special mind in looking at our defensive group as a whole.”

Against Chivas USA, Toronto FC will need to remain as defensively disciplined as ever. It helps, however, that the already goal-shy team’s top scorer, Erick Torres, will be out due to suspension.

Still, Vanney says Chivas is not to be taken lightly.

“Any team is dangerous at this point of the year,” Vanney added. “Everybody’s playing for something in their own way.”