After a gradual build into the season, the North American soccer schedule gets into full swing with the month of May.
Toronto FC have six MLS matches on the docket this month, add in a Canadian Championship clash with CF Montreal on Tuesday at BMO Field and the possibility of another round of cup action two weeks later, May is going to be a busy month.
The old adage that players love this packed schedule is true.
“100%,” confirmed Sigurd Rosted on Friday. “I really look forward to this period, to not have to train and only play games.”
With only two or three days between matches it’s game, recover, prepare; game, recover, prepare. Rinse and repeat.
“The two days in between the games is just going to be recover and maybe a little bit on the field the day before, but not that much,” outlined the defender. “It's more about recovering and surviving for the next game.”
Luckily there will be plenty of protein shakes to help the players along.
“Good, very good,” laughed Rosted of the quality of shakes at his disposal.
For Bob Bradley, there is no sense in looking too far into the future with lineup selections.
TRAINING SOUND | Bob Bradley - May 5, 2023
“We will pick our best team,” Bradley said of his thoughts heading into Saturday. “And then see how we come out of it.”
On the heels of last weekend’s 1-0 win over NYCFC, Toronto are in good spirits.
After a string of draws and a defeat away to the Philadelphia Union, it was good to be rewarded with the full three points.
“I feel like we [did turn a corner], took the last step to get a win, to get over the hump, to get the three points,” said Rosted. “It's been a good week, a positive week, so hopefully we can continue where we left off.”
And a match against the New England Revolution offers a chance to square off against some old friends.
Neither Jozy Altidore nor Omar Gonzalez, both former Reds, have featured regularly for the Revolution. But in Bruce Arena, Bradley will be matching wits with an old friend.
The two go back to the early 1980s and the University of Virginia, where Bradley was Arena’s assistant coach. The two joined forces again in 1996 with the advent of MLS at D.C. United.
Oddly, for all that history the two have only faced each other six times over the years with each winning twice, losing twice, and drawing the other two.
“We've coached teams together, we've coached against each other, but there's always been a friendship,” said Bradley of the reunion. “He's busy and I'm busy, but we both know that if something popped up, we could call the other one and he would always be ready if we needed something.”
Arena’s New England come to town looking more like the 2021 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners than the team that missed the playoffs last season.
Unbeaten in seven matches, the Revolution have lost just once this season – away to LAFC in March – but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at home last weekend against FC Cincinnati.
“It's a team that's very characteristic of the way Bruce works,” outlined Bradley. “It's well put together, they're solid with everything they do, they are athletic.”
“They create chances where they're direct at times, they're good when they get forward on the flanks with [DeJuan] Jones and with [Brandon] Bye, in terms of crosses and guys running hard in the box,” he continued. “They do basic things really well.”
Giacomo Vrioni leads the side with three goals through eight appearances this season, while Carles Gil is once more the top playmaker with four assists.
TRAINING SOUND | Sigurd Rosted - May 5, 2023
“A really good team,” underlined Rosted. “We watched a little bit of how they play. For me there's a lot of new players every week, so you really have to focus on the videos and see the individual players.”
“It's going to be a really good game,” he anticipated. “And hopefully we get another home win.”
Both meetings last season ended in draws – a scoreless affair at Gillette Stadium and a 2-2 draw at BMO Field.
There are no secrets between old friends.
“He probably has a good idea of things we try to do and I understand what they're all about,” closed Bradley. “So it comes down to how the teams execute.”