Toronto FC will close out the 2022 slate of home fixtures on Friday night with the visit of Inter Miami CF.

Mathematically eliminated from MLS Cup Playoff contention in their last outing away to Orlando City SC on September 17, TFC will be looking to see out this year with an eye on the next.

“The end of a season, when now you're not still competing to be in the playoffs, it's challenging to keep everybody going every day, to keep them alive,” said Bob Bradley on Thursday. “I have a simple starting point, that to become a good team – you’ve heard me say it – it's not like there's a beginning date and an end date. It's continuous.”

“And that also means as a player your development is continuous. Every training session is an opportunity to take little things that have been thrown at you, shown, coached, and go on the field and be alive and try to be at the highest level you can be,” he continued. “I, with Paul [Stalteri] and Mike [Sorber], we go out every day. We've had good training sessions.”

“Has everybody been where I want them every day? No, we're not there yet on that,” Bradley added. “There's still, as always, a group of guys that are always committed, always professional, always ready to play, love playing in front of the fans in Toronto and know that tomorrow is the last chance for this year. That's going to help set the tone for the others.”

The international break provided a bit of distance between the disappointment and what lies ahead.

“The couple of weeks during that break was good,” said Quentin Westberg. “Everyone comes to the locker room without bringing any frustration or anything. These past few days have been really good. It felt like the will to still enjoy and still respect the game, respect the soccer.”

“We didn't live up to the expectation, that's one thing, but it's not bringing everybody's morale down. It's respecting the game and being grateful for being a soccer player. Sometimes it gets down to the simplest facts,” he levelled. “The atmosphere has been very serious, very engaged, but also still trying to make the best of these last weeks and prepare well because this is the best way to get on the field tomorrow night and perform.”

TRAINING SOUND | Quentin Westberg – September 29, 2022

The final home game of any season, regardless of how the year played out, is always a chance for the club and the fans to express their gratitude for each other. The players to the fans and the fans to the players alike, especially after missing out on that interplay for most of the previous two years.

“We want to leave on a high note, we want to enjoy one great evening with our fans and thank them for the support throughout the season,” said Westberg. “The best way for us to do is to show up and show up well.”

With Miami still battling for a postseason berth – they enter the weekend holding onto the final spot in the Eastern Conference via a tie-breaker, level on points with the Columbus Crew – Westberg expects a good match.

“A lot of heart,” he anticipated from his side. “I expect a lot of heart coming from Miami, of course. It's an exciting moment for them, but there will be some nervousness. If it goes their way a little bit, then they'll feel good. And if it doesn't, they'll feel frustrated quite fast because they're right on the line. The focus is more on us right now. It's once more not taking for granted any BMO night. Enjoying our fans for the last time in 2022.”

“The truth of the game is when the whistle blows,” added the goalkeeper. “Playing at BMO is very special for us. We're going to bring them intensity for sure.”

An added dimension will be the return of Alejandro Pozuelo to the pitch he graced for some four seasons, even if much of that was disrupted by the pandemic.

“Poz is a friend, he was a great teammate, and we had a great stretch with him,” said Westberg. “We shared a lot of great memories, some hard ones also, not necessarily on the field, but off the field. We all lived the pandemic together and it was kind of an experience, but now he's on the wrong side.”

“I'm sure it will be special for him, but for the 90 minutes-plus on the field here, he'll be an opponent,” he added. “All the good memories will still live before and after, but during it he's just on the wrong side of the crest.”

“He'll get a good reception,” anticipated Bradley. “The fans here appreciate players that have been here, who have played well; they appreciate good football. So in all those ways, I think Ale will get the kind of recognition and appreciation that he deserves.”

TRAINING SOUND | Bob Bradley – September 29, 2022

Having left Toronto on July 7, Pozuelo has slotted in nicely with his new club, scoring two goals and registering six assists in 11 appearances.

“Ale's capable at any given moment of making a clever pass, a clever play,” cautioned Bradley. “He's got a good relationship with [Gonzalo] Higuaín, you can see that right away, and I think he's helped them since he's arrived.”

Phil Neville’s side come to Toronto on a two-game winning streak, having defeated Columbus 2-1 at home and picking up three points away to D.C. United before the break with a 3-2 victory.

Higuaín’s 13 goals lead the way, but Leonardo Campana’s hot on his heels with ten to his name. Bryce Duke is level with Pozuelo on six assists.

“They got a late goal at D.C, the excitement of that, being an important goal to keep them going,” reminded Bradley. “That day they played with Campana and Higuaín, so they switched the way they played a little bit, prior to that they hadn't been playing too often with both of them. They let Ale have pretty much a free roll.”

Miami won the last meeting, 2-1 at home on August 20, with goals from Jean Mota and Ariel Lassiter either side of a Lorenzo Insigne strike.

“We had a good game with them in Miami. There were periods in that game where with the ball we were quite good, created some good advantages. [We] gave up some bad goals. And in the second half when we were pushing the game, we weren’t able to get back to 2-2,” recalled Bradley. “[Friday] night will be cool and good weather for playing, so I think the tempo of the game has potential to be faster than the game in Miami.”