MEXICO CITY – Toronto FC kicked off the second phase of their preseason tour on Thursday morning, dropping a 6-3 result to local Liga MX side Club América in their first friendly match in Mexico. The Reds got goals from Jozy Altidore (2) and Sebastian Giovinco over the course of the 90 minutes, taking 2-0 and 3-2 leads during the match. Speaking with TorontoFC.ca, head coach Greg Vanney gave his thoughts on the match.
On new signing Gregory van der Wiel in his first appearance for Toronto FC:
“He looked very comfortable within the group and showed that he’s a very good player on both sides of the ball. He had some great attacking moves and covered well defensively; he’s a high-level player. He pushed through 90 minutes, which I know wasn’t easy, but he did a good job getting through and being solid. I’m pleased with where he is physically, now it’s about getting used to his teammates, but we’re very happy with his first outing.”
On his team's performance over the three 30-minute periods:
“I thought for the first 30 minutes—against essentially their first team—we were the better team. We went up 2-0 and scored two good goals; we were able to play through their pressure and had a very good outing. But even in those first 30 minutes, I could tell that the altitude was starting to take an effect on the guys. This is a big change from where we’ve been, so I knew there would be a big change as the game wore on. There are still some things we can tighten up, but in the grand scheme of things I was very pleased with how we dealt with their high press, the chances we were able to create and the goals we scored. On the other end, we stayed solid defensively; we didn’t give up anything.
“We started the next 30 minutes strong and probably played 20 of it quite well. I could start to see some guys fading because of the altitude—we trained pretty hard yesterday, as well. But once they started putting fresh guys out there, you could see our guys starting to decline against the new guys that were picking up the tempo. I think we could have managed the goals we conceded a bit better in terms of our marking and dealing with balls in the air, but I was pleased with the first 60.
“The third period was a struggle physically just to see things out. They were starting to really feel the effects and it became a tough one. Our spacing started to get pulled apart and we weren’t connecting passes in the attacking third, so we were giving them the ball back to them pretty quickly. The great thing about coming down here is that you get punished when you make a mistake. That doesn’t always happen in preseason when you’re playing against college sides and MLS teams, but if you come down here and make mistakes, you’ll get punished. It’s a good reminder of what it takes to be sharp.”
On the effects of playing at altitude serving as preparation for the CONCACAF Champions League:
“This is 2,000 feet higher than even Colorado. Your body starts to adapt to the altitude from a scientific standpoint. It creates more red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body, so over the course of the eight days that we’re down here, their bodies will start to make that adaptation. We won’t get all the way there—we’re not down here long enough. But now we get to experience 90 minutes at altitude, and this is even higher than Colorado. Now you start to understand what the effects will be, how you’ll feel, and what you need to do work through it. We’ll be fitter in two weeks than we are now and we’ll have gone through the process which is important.”
TFC – Jozy Altidore
TFC – Sebastian Giovinco
TFC – Jozy Altidore
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Gregory van der Wiel, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga (Nick Hagglund), Justin Morrow; Marky Delgado (Noble Okello), Michael Bradley ©, Victor Vazquez (Jay Chapman), Jonathan Osorio (Tsubasa Endoh); Jozy Altidore (Jordan Hamilton), Sebastian Giovinco