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Johnson: We're a playoff-quality squad

TORONTO – Ryan Johnson, one of the players brought in by Toronto FC in the massive overhaul that started in late June, feels the new-look Reds are a playoff team.

The problem is they’re not. For the fifth year in a row, TFC have come up short in the race for the postseason.

Johnson, who joined Toronto in a July 14 trade with San Jose, is particularly disappointed that the regular season will end in two weeks because of the momentum TFC have been building.

“I feel like if this squad was together from the beginning of the year, we would definitely be in the playoffs,” Johnson said on Friday after the team had a gym session at BMO Field.

The 26-year-old Jamaican international said the rebuilt Reds might have been able to make the playoffs this season anyway, “with just some more results that didn’t go our way with late goals and things like that that could have been wins.”

Toronto have allowed 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of their league games, some of which have cost them points.

The most recent example came last Saturday against the New York Red Bulls when Thierry Henry’s 88th-minute goal resulted in a 1-1 tie instead of a win at BMO Field. The draw officially ended TFC’s playoff hopes.

Another example came when Johnson’s former team, the Earthquakes, scored in the 87th minute on Aug. 27 to steal a 1-1 tie, and it cost the Reds another two points at home.

“I can think of nine points off the top of my head that would put us right in the hunt, [that] would actually put us in the playoffs right now,” Johnson said, “but we have a chance next year with a lot of the guys – and I‘m sure we’ll see some new faces again, guys who will contribute a lot, too – to really try and make a run at it.”

Unlike this year, most of the new players should have a chance to work into the team during the preseason. Even before any additions are made, Johnson likes the group that has emerged from the makeover.

“The core guys that are playing a lot here,” he said, “if we keep those guys together, I think we’ll be all right.”