Toronto FC played their second preseason match of 2024 on Saturday, facing off against defending MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC in Santa Barbara, California.
The teams played a standard 90-minute match of two 45-minute halves with a 30-minute additional period tacked on to the end to give some action to players not involved in that initial encounter.
With the match played behind closed doors, details are limited, but John Herdman was pleased with what he saw from his side when he spoke post-match.
“A really strong performance through the 90 minutes,” he said. “I was really happy with what the players put out there.”
“We were able to limit Columbus to a couple of shots, good chances, but Toronto were able to keep a consistent threat,” Herdman added. “It was a really positive outing. The last 30 minutes we changed our lineups around, made sure we gave a lot of opportunities to players. There was a strong focus on what we did in that 90 minutes. Really happy with the outcome.”
Some of the few clips to emerge included a tidy finish from Ayo Akinola and a screamer from Alonso Coello.
Results don’t matter in preseason; it’s about what a team can take away from each outing as they build towards the opening game of the regular season.
“It was their first game, our second, so it was a preseason match, but I thought we were able to limit their opportunities. They never really got into the free-flow rhythm, which was good,” observed Herdman. “The players were really tight, compact, they had real clarity in their defensive jobs and stuck to them.”
“But I was more impressed with the attacking,” he continued. “You expect, against Columbus, if you're going to really go after the attack, you're expecting things to open up and you’re to be under threat at the other end, but we got a lot of good chances.”
“It was nice to see some goals going in for us as well,” Herdman added. “I was really impressed with our first 90 minutes. That was a strong performance from our second game of preseason. Just another step on the journey.”
Toronto are back in action on Wednesday when they face Real Salt Lake and will wrap up preseason with a final outing against LAFC on Saturday.
Phase one of preseason was about building fitness, phase two has seen the emphasis switch more to evolving the tactical identity and cohesion that Herdman wants from his side. That work will continue as the players prepare for these upcoming tests.
“We've got two matches in a short window of time,” said the head coach of the upcoming stretch. “The first part of this is to make sure that we allow all the players to get that opportunity against RSL. I'm still in the assessment phase and some players will want to really push to show themselves before the LAFC game.”
“And then it's rotation, we want to keep people fresh for LAFC. We know that's a test that's going to be difficult,” closed Herdman. “I'm excited for both games, so a lot of rotation and experimenting for Salt Lake.”