Toronto FC

Reds “building a foundation” as preseason continues in San Diego

Even the best laid plans are subject to external disruptions. 

Toronto FC have experienced a little bit of that this preseason with some January rains rolling through San Diego, California.

“Every couple of years, California in January, you can get hit with the rain,” said Bob Bradley on Tuesday. “This is one of them.”

“We had three good training days to begin with, had a day off, started the next three days, got two good ones in, the third one we had to improvise, figure out how we could still turn it into something given that the field conditions were poor,” he outlined. “We had a day off yesterday, this morning is also going to be improvisation, and then hopefully by tomorrow, we can get back into more of the regular kind of trainings that we started with.”

“I felt we were off to a good start, the group in a good way, establishing some football ideas, pushing things along,” Bradley added. “Just a little bit of a temporary pause, but still finding good ways to keep everybody going physically and get some good work in the gym.”

That’s life. The weather cares not for when the picnic is planned. One must roll with the punches. 

Besides, it’s not like Bob Bradley was planning on making the players run sand dunes or anything like that anyways. 

Preseason is always a bit of a balance. Finding the right ways to foster both the required fitness as well as begin incorporating the football ideas that will create a platform for the long season ahead. 

For the most part, gone are the days when it was all about hard running and getting in shape. 

“You work everything together,” explained the TFC head coach. “You establish ideas on how you want to play, that obviously sharpens players up technically. Through the different game situations that get created over and over, that's where you build in the physical side of things.”

“The early part of preseason is largely about building a foundation,” he continued. “For me this idea that you go in and just really run the group hard for a few weeks. You don't get enough football, you don't establish enough in terms of how you want to play, and potentially that type of really hard physical work, as you go through a season, at a certain point can actually hurt.”

“It's got to be built up in the right way so that the foundation of everything is strong,” Bradley added. “That's the way I've typically worked in every team I've been, feel good about it, and that's how we continue to do it here.”

Despite the precipitation, preparations for the 2023 season continue. 

One of the positions of interest is at goalkeeper, where the club finds itself a little short handed through this early portion of preseason. 

Greg Ranjitsingh and TFC II goalkeeper Luka Gavran are both recovering in Toronto, leaving newcomer Tomás Romero and teenager Adisa De Rosario as the only keepers in camp.

Romero, who was selected in the First Round of the MLS Re-Entry Draft back in November, comes to TFC familiar with the ways of Bob Bradley with the two of them having spent 2021 together at LAFC.

“Tomás is an experienced young goalkeeper,” said Bradley of the 22-year-old. “Has a good way about him, a steady presence. The fact that he's already gotten some games for the national team in El Salvador speaks to the fact that as a young goalkeeper his overall way of handling situations is quite good.”

“We see the potential there. We enjoyed working with him, he's got a good mentality every day,” he continued. “We didn't bring him in with the thought for sure that he's number one goalkeeper, we're still in some different discussions, but he's had enough games in MLS and some international experience that we know we can still count on him in different moments.”

Bradley isn’t concerned with having his options limited at this stage.


“We have what we need for the beginning of camp,” he said. “Greg we're just trying to make sure that he feels good after being down a little bit over the holidays. Having Adisa here, a young goalkeeper, experienced, is very positive. We talked about Tomás. Luka Gavran at the end of the year had a little bit of a wrist issue, so he's back in Toronto and we're hopeful at some point we can get him into preseason.”

“And as everyone knows,” Bradley added. “We've been working hard to try to finalize the number one slot with somebody that we think gives us the right combination of abilities and experiences.”

As much as preseason is about preparation for what lies ahead, it is also a time of evaluation. Get the group together, see where everybody is, and assess where they can be expected to be as the year goes on.

A handful of TFC II players are in San Diego with the first team, including Kobe Franklin, who has been a standout the last two seasons with the second team, and De Rosario.

“Kobe is here, there's a small group of TII guys that we worked with throughout the year in first team training,” confirmed Bradley. “You're always hoping to see how far somebody has progressed, are they ready to step up?”

“Kobe is a player that in terms of some of his ideas with the ball, some of his cleverness, is doing really well,” he continued. “But there still are some areas in terms of pure defensive responsibilities and his ability to handle certain situations when the ball turns over that hopefully improved as he went through the season last year. And now we'll see where that stands as we go through preseason.”