After a couple of hard-earned road results, Toronto FC are back home.

The Reds will face the Portland Timbers at BMO Field on Saturday night, the first of another set of three matches in the coming week. 

Wednesday will see the New England Revolution come to town before TFC heads back on the road to face Inter Miami CF on Saturday.

As if anyone could forget, that last home match was special.

The debuts of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, Mark-Anthony Kaye taking to the pitch at BMO Field for the first time with his new club. TFC scored four goals in an electric opening 45 minutes and saw out the second half for a 4-0 victory over Charlotte FC.

Saturday marks the return of Richie Laryea to the pitch where he caused opponents so much trouble and made so many memories.

It’s always good to be home.

“I know how excited everybody was for Charlotte and then what it felt like and the crowd and the level of support,” said Bob Bradley on Friday. “On that day we put together some really good football and everybody was feeling very, very good about that.”

“We've taken some of that to the away games – good mentality; moments where you continue to see the way we want to play – and now we have important games coming up at home,” he continued. “[We] finish the season with a mix home/away, but these next two games are important and we're really excited to get back on a Saturday night, which we love, and be in BMO with our fans.”

Scoreless draw at New England aside, Toronto’s offense has been clicking. The club has scored eight goals through this three-match unbeaten run with four-goal outputs against Charlotte and Nashville SC.

That potency was always a possibility.

“We always knew,” said Jonathan Osorio. “Everybody knew that we are capable of that, especially when you're getting guys at the calibre of Lorenzo and Federico. They're going to create chances, they're going to score goals, create chances for other people.”

“We know that we are dangerous going forward,” he continued. “But we also want to be as dangerous defensively. And the last three games we've been better defensively, especially in the run of play. Now it's just about cleaning up some of the little details of the game, like set-pieces and things like that.”

With a break in the hectic schedule, TFC have gotten another full week of training under their belts.

The designated Italians, Insigne and Bernardeschi, still in a preseason of sorts, will have benefited immensely from that.

“This has been a good week for both,” said Bradley. “You see, every day, more energy, the personalities of both come out more and more within the group.”

“That's also really important. They love football, they bring personality, they bring creativity, they bring a lot,” he explained. “And so I think they're moving in a good way and we continue to push them along. For the final run, you'll see even more.”

Part of the focus, as it always is when new players join the squad, has been forming and strengthening those crucial relationships on the pitch.

“It’s developing really well,” assessed Osorio of those partnerships. “We really have a good group here and that helps it progress faster. Some relationships take longer to understand or the understanding takes longer between players than others, but with good players, it comes kind of easy. And I think that's what I see happening. The team is coming along pretty quickly now and in a good way.”

It happens both naturally and with the aid of instruction.

“We create training sessions where we work on different ideas, ideas of movements, ideas of what happens when in moments when Lorenzo stays high and wide, what happens in moments where he wants to come inside,” detailed Bradley. “We talked about trying to find an extra man in the midfield if teams are trying to lock down hard on Michael [Bradley] and Oso, how do we use Fede and Lorenzo to come and be the next guy. In moments if Jesús [Jiménez] has come off [the front line] a little bit, then we need to do a better job of getting more deep runs – we don't get enough deep runs.”

“We work through all these things and see the things that are going well and then the areas [that need more],” he added. “I still think that when certain guys come away from the defense and they're opening up gaps, we need other guys that are on the run going through.”

With seven points in their last three matches, TFC has made up some ground points-wise in the quest for a playoff berth, but the Eastern Conference remains tight with seven teams separated by four points in what is shaping up to be an epic battle for the seventh and final post-season spot.

With ten games remaining, Toronto knows there is little room for error.

“Of course it's difficult – every game in this league is difficult – but we certainly think that's very possible as well, especially with the team that we have and the way that we're playing right now,” replied Osorio. “We've been saying every game we go into to get three points and now the margins are really little for losing points. We go into every game like a final, that's our mentality.”

The visit of Portland on Saturday will be no different.

Giovanni Savarese’s side come to BMO Field unbeaten in their last ten matches, on the back of three-straight draws: away to Minnesota United and at home against Nashville and FC Dallas.

Portland too are fighting for their playoff lives, currently holding onto the final berth in the West by one point with the Seattle Sounders hot on the heels, trailing by a single point with a game in hand.

“Always a tough team,” cautioned Bradley. “Physically strong, a real presence on set-pieces, organized, and then a couple of players that they rely on to make plays. [Sebastián] Blanco, very important for them, both Charas, [Diego and Yimmi]. Good team.”

Jaroslaw Niezgoda’s nine goals tops the chart, but four other players have at least five, and Yimmi Chara leads the side with eight assists – both Blanco and Santiago Moreno are hot on his heels with seven each.

With the disruption of the last few years, it has been some time since the two clubs last met: April 27, 2019 to be exact, a 2-1 win for Portland at BMO Field.

Osorio remembers that day.

“That was a tough one, obviously, but that's so far in the past that a lot has changed. They are a little bit of a different team; we're a different team, a totally different team,” he said. “But we know that they're always a tough test in this league. They have, in the last decade, made a pretty good history and so this will be a tough game.”