Toronto FC defeated LAFC 2-1 in preseason action on Wednesday afternoon in Irvine, California.
Ifunanyachi Achara opened the scoring in the second half, arriving onto a ball at the top of the box, and Jordan Perruzza doubled TFC’s lead with his second goal in as many games.
LAFC pulled one back before the final whistle through academy product Nathan Ordaz.
It’s always nice to win, but preseason matches aren’t really about the scoreline.
“First half some really good stretches,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “Like the tempo of the passing, didn't quite do well enough when we got around the attacking third, thought we needed still some ideas and just some better final moments, but overall, some really good play from back to front and defensively we handled things pretty well.”
“Second half two good goals, really excited to see Achara and Perruzza with the goals,” he continued. “Similar [to the first half] in the moments when the tempo is fast and passes are being connected, there's a lot of positives. We’ve just got to turn it into something that's more consistent, where we can keep that tempo up throughout the game.”
Achara’s opener came straight out of the playbook.
“It was a good play down to left flank, I was looking for the cutback and it dropped,” began the 24-year-old forward. “That's what we've been working on all preseason: the wingers going aggressive and trying to find the crosses early on and if you're coming in late, you want to be on top of the box. I was, the ball came, and it was a great finish.”
Four days after the first preseason match against the LA Galaxy on Saturday and two weeks into training camp, progress was already evident.
“The fluidity today was better,” noted Bradley. “More connections in the midfield, right use of touches and more times where we could play through the midfield faster and get into the attack. That was a big step up.”
Achara was impressed by how quickly the new coach has laid out his ideas.
“To each person his instructions are clear. We know what we want to do,” he explained. “The information is clear. We just have to take it one step at a time and next game, next practice, keep implementing what Bob is introducing to the team.”
Wednesday’s match concludes the California-based portion of preseason. The team will now return to Toronto for a couple of days before moving on to Austin, Texas as the build up to the first match of the season on February 26 away to FC Dallas continues.
“The players have handled this first phase really well,” assessed Bradley. “A lot of new ideas, but you can see so many guys picking things up.”
“Really good camaraderie in the group – I give a lot of credit to some of the veterans, who really do an excellent job of setting the right tone every day. So it's good work,” he added. “A couple days to catch up and then off to Austin and we continue.”
Toronto square off against Austin FC in their next preseason match on February 9 with matches against Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, and Sporting KC to follow in Texas.
It’s still very early in the process, but the signs are positive.
“I feel good, feel really good, I’m trying to get fit,” said Achara. “The boys are buzzing and it's exciting all around. We have a really good group. We're excited for the next few games.”