TORONTO — The focus returns to Major League Soccer for Toronto FC on Saturday.
After their midweek 2-1 victory over Real Estelí in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round, they are back in MLS to play the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday (GOL TV Canada, 11 p.m. ET). The Reds will play the second leg in of in the CONCACAF competition in Nicaragua on Tuesday.
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“We still have to take care of Portland first,” forward Ryan Johnson said. “That’s a game that is important for us. We need to get as many points for us as possible in the league before we even go to Nicaragua. We’re kind of focusing on Portland first. Playing on the turf there, the atmosphere, it’s going to be tough.”
After the game in Nicaragua, Toronto travel to Washington for an Aug. 6 match against D.C. United. If trades are part of MLS, so is difficult travel.
“Exactly,” quipped Johnson, who knows about both. He was traded by San Jose to Toronto on July 14.
He could be doing even more traveling. He plays for Jamaica, who did well in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and is a logical candidate to be selected to play for them in an international friendly in China on Aug. 10.
“I think I’m supposed to go to China,” Johnson said. “So the traveling doesn’t stop. It’s only going to get worse from here.
“I’m used to it now, but you’ve got to be professional and take care of your body. We’re experienced in doing this, so you’ve just got to do those little things: hydrate, stretch, massage, things like that. Those things help you out tremendously when you’re travelling. We do those things, we’ll be fine for the game.”
Experience helps, too.
“Experience just helps you be more comfortable in the situation,” Johnson said. “I’m comfortable in pretty much any situation that I’ve put myself into because I’ve played everywhere. For the younger guys, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult, but it’s my job as an older guy and the other guys on the team to help them out as much as we can.”
TFC have another player available for the game in Portland with the acquisition of 22-year-old forward Peri Marosevic. The Bosnian-born American is in his third season in the MLS and was picked up by TFC soon after being waived by FC Dallas. He became the ninth player added by Toronto in the past month.
“He has had a tough time finding playing time in Dallas but we are confident he can fit into our system and contribute to our club both in the short-term and long-term,” head coach Aron Winter said in a statement.
Marosevic was drafted fifth overall by FC Dallas in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and signed a Generation adidas contract. He was a member of the United States U-20 FIFA World Cup team in 2009.