As playoff dream fades, Toronto FC boss Greg Vanney urges fans to keep faith in core group of players

TORONTO – Toronto FC’s playoff hopes are a dim flicker with just two matches to go in 2014.

A 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night once again puts the club in a desperate position just outside the red line, albeit in a year with all-time high win and point tallies. There is still a chance that Toronto FC could make the playoffs, but that chance is slim, and requires other results to go in the team’s favor.

If Toronto FC does miss this year’s postseason, head coach Greg Vanney still sees plenty of positives within the squad to build towards future success.

“I think we have the makings of a team that is definitely playoff caliber,” Vanney told after the match. “It’s easy at the beginning of the year when you make some big signings and then, on paper, you look at things and go, ‘Oh yeah, this is a playoff team.’ But there’s so many things that happen over the course of those eight to nine months that actually make up the body of work that is a season.”

Ryan Nelsen was fired for a lack of results leading up to a disappointing home loss to the New England Revolution, and Vanney took over at a critical time in Toronto FC’s season, with 10 games to go in the year and form dipping. General manager Tim Bezbatchenko admitted that the club should probably have made a coaching change earlier in the season, and affirmed that Vanney would be the man to lead the team from that point on.

Vanney, who's led the club to a 2-5-1 record since taking over, says he understands the frustration of fans who are getting fed up with their team after eight seasons without a playoff appearance, but added there’s a good, solid foundation to build on for next season.

“I respect where they’re at,” Vanney said. “What I would say to them is that I firmly believe – and I’m sure they’ve heard this many times – but I firmly believe that this core group of players is a playoff team. What I would say is to stand by this group because they are good enough. They needed this year of experience coming together, the ups and downs, the grind of the MLS season, but the word for me is stability and continuity.

“The only formula for success in MLS, honestly, is continuity and stability with a core group of players,” he continued. “When you look around at all the teams that have been successful, there’s continuity, stability and a core group of players. You can look at the RSLs of the world, the Galaxy, any team that has been successful, it’s been because there’s been a core group of players that have been together and understand how to get results in this yearly grind that this league is all about.”

Under Vanney, Toronto FC will hope to find that continuity and stability, as well as prepare more diligently using cognitive sciences and analytic work to couple with the experiences gained from this first season together.

“There’s no experience that they have that is equal to the grind of the MLS,” Vanney said. “This team just needs to grow together and they will be successful, of that, there is no question.”