A week can make quite the difference.

Seven days on and a pair of strong results in tow, Toronto FC head into their next match unbeaten in two.

It began with a 2-2 draw away to D.C. United last Saturday, twice coming from behind to earn a point. That carried into Tuesday’s Canadian Championship quarterfinal against HFX Wanderers FC in Halifax, where TFC again found another gear to win 2-1.

The comforts of home now await. 

On Saturday TFC return to BMO Field for a clash with the Chicago Fire, the final MLS match before the June international break.

“The draw in D.C. came as a result of a group of guys that kept going, kept playing football, kept having a way to push the game at the end, so that's always something you want to build on,” said Bob Bradley on Friday. “And then cup matches take on a whole different feel, but when you go away and you play a smaller team in their place and they're excited and motivated and their crowd is behind them, that's always going to be a tough game.”

“We saw a good effort,” he continued. “In the second half the speed of the game picked up, that was to our advantage, so yeah, those are good things.”

Over the course of a long season, such little inflection points can make a world of difference.

“It gives us a big boost coming off of a little bit of a bad spell,” said Jordan Perruzza, who was instrumental in the opening goal against HFX, directing a corner kick towards goal, where Michael Bradley got the final touch. “A point on the road and then a big cup win midweek lifted the group a lot.”

The opening portion of a season is never easy, especially for a group reformulating their identity. Toronto, however, believe they have found something.

“It hasn’t been the easiest. There's been a lot of learning on the fly,” reflected Perruzza. “But it's one of the best groups I've ever been a part of.”

“That's why you’re seeing us never giving up and always fighting until the last minute of each game,” he highlighted. “And I think that's why we've come off of this tough stretch with a lot of positives.”

On Wednesday night, when the other two quarterfinal matches finished up, TFC learned that their path to the Voyageurs Cup lies through CF Montreal – the two will meet at BMO Field on June 22 – always a mouth-watering fixture.

“Every game against Montreal is massive,” smiled Perruzza. “We can't wait.”

And with the long-awaiting 2020 Canadian Championship final set to be played at Tim Horton’s Field against Forge FC next Saturday, there are big days ahead for the side.

Up first though is the matter of Saturday’s contest with the Chicago Fire.

Having started the season with a four-match unbeaten run, Chicago have struggled of late. They enter Saturday winless in their last nine outings, most recently a 1-0 loss away to NYCFC on Sunday, where a first half penalty kick proved the difference.

In his first season at the helm, Chicago coach Ezra Hendrickson has a number of interesting talents at his disposal, headlined by Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri.

Perruzza relishes the chance to go up against the former Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and Liverpool attacker – Shaqiri leads the side with three goals and four assists, factoring in on all but four of Chicago’s goals.

“It’s always exciting playing against the best players in the league,” he explained. “It's a dream come true, growing up, watching these players and then get to share the field, that’s exciting for everyone.”

A good mix of youth – Teenage goalkeeper Gaga Slonina, who recently opted to represent the USA rather than Poland – and experience – 37-year-old former US international Jonathan Bornstein, who has nearly 200 MLS appearances as well as nearly a decade in Mexico.

Players familiar with MLS – Kacper Przybylko, Fabian Herbers, and Chris Mueller, who just returned from short stint in Scotland after beginning his career with Orlando City SC – and international talents recruited to the league – 21-year-old Mexican midfielder Jairo Torres, who jut joined from Liga MX’s Atlas, Hendrickson is in the early stages of building a good side, a situation not unlike the one Bradley finds himself in in Toronto.

“Chicago has a solid structure the way they play,” outlined the TFC coach. “A big acquisition with Shaqiri, anytime a player comes to the league the first time around with a lot of teams, he’s just kind of sizing up what the league is about, sizing up his teammates.”

“They're well-organized defensively and early in the year you see a lot of hard-fought, tight games,” he continued – nine of Chicago’s 13 matches have been decided by one goal or less. “They're still getting through that, in terms of figuring out exactly what they are and how they can improve in a bunch of different areas. There are similarities in that regard.”

TFC won both meetings between the sides last season, most recently a 3-1 clash at BMO Field last October, and are unbeaten in the last 13 encounters, stretching back to 2015.

Regardless, they know they are in for a difficult match on Saturday.

“We're expecting a battle,” forecast Perruzza. “They’ve got a lot of talented players just like us, who are trying to find ways to get wins on the road or at home. We're expecting a fight. We're going to come with it as well.”