TORONTO – Fresh off of their last bye week of the summer, Toronto FC look healthy, happy, and rejuvenated, with plenty of players returning to the fold from injuries and international duty.
TFC head coach Greg Vanney remarked that he and captain Michael Bradley hadn’t seen so many faces in training before, calling it a “good feeling” to have in camp.
“It’s great to see some guys back who we haven’t seen in a little while,” Vanney told reporters. “It’s going to be tougher to pick 11s and tougher to pick 18s, as we get more guys back, but that’s what we want. That’s what makes my job interesting and, at times, difficult.”
This past bye week provided Toronto FC with a chance to both recuperate and reflect on the first third of the season, a stretch that saw the club survive a season-opening seven-game road trip before returning home and thriving at the new-look BMO Field.
Bradley, who returned to Toronto last week after leading the US to very impressive road wins at Germany and the Netherlands, says that his club side is just getting started.
“If I’m being honest or critical, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of ourselves yet,” Bradley said. “That’s a good thing. Given the start that we’ve had, the road games, people also forget that in a lot of ways this is also a new team, a new group of guys. We’ve been able to mentally keep ourselves going and push through difficult moments. I think the best is still yet to come for everybody.”
Bradley was away with the USMNT when Toronto FC took on and defeated Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United on June 6, but the US midfielder made sure to tune in and watch, and was left more than impressed with his teammates’ performances.
“It was the night after our game in Holland so I knew that training would be a little bit on the lighter side,” Bradley explained. “So, the next day, I stayed up and was able to catch it on the computer. It’s never easy to watch, that’s for sure, but it was just, in all ways, an incredible result. For us to go there and to be able to come away with a good win should serve as reinforcement about the group that we have and the team that we can be moving forward.”
Bradley will now have a few more club matches at home before he embarks on another international adventure, as the US gears up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. With so many games on both the club and national team level, Bradley may be somewhat overworked, but he says a large number of matches is personally manageable.
“I love to play, I love to compete,” Bradley said. “I do everything I can to keep myself fit and healthy and ready to step on the field every single game. There’s nothing better than being able to play, whether it’s for Toronto FC or the national team. The chance to step on the field is always special so I try to have myself ready for as many games a year as possible.”