Toronto FC returned to the KIA Training Ground on Tuesday in search of answers following their 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City at BMO Field.
With three games in seven days last Saturday’s contest was always going to be tough, but the Reds had Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore returning to the lineup and the visitors were missing Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer and Roger Espinoza.
It didn’t matter. Peter Vermes’ team played organized, pressing soccer and a trio of defensive errors proved to be Toronto’s undoing.
Greg Vanney and his staff will focus on two facets of the game in order to correct their woes.
“We are going to take a very specific look at how we start matches and make sure that everybody understands when we talk about having an aggressive start, a positive start, that those aren’t just words,” said TFC’s head coach following training.
“Second, making adjustments on how we defend set pieces. Whether we mark the man, play zone or some hybrid of the two, we’ll address that over the course of the week.”
Vanney believes he has the right defensive personnel to push forward towards the playoffs, but the Reds may be without Damien Perquis for match. The Frenchman missed the last match due to suspension, but he had also been dealing with an injury last week.
“[He] was having a quadricep problem,” said Vanney. “We're hopeful for the weekend but we'll see what the MRIs say."
Ahmed Kantari played over 270 minutes of soccer last week, his first in MLS, and could also be in line for a rest. It’s worth noting Nick Hagglund and Clement Simonin were full participants in training on Tuesday with that in mind.
Red Bulls In Form
There’s no question what colour New York is following Sunday’s Hudson River Derby.
The Red Bulls made it a clean sweep, three wins to zero, with a 2-0 win over New York City FC. Consider how the season began for the Red Bulls, with fans voicing their anger over the sacking of head coach Mike Petke at a fiery town hall meeting, to where the club is now. Jesse Marsch has his club playing the best soccer in the Eastern Conference.
“We saw them twice in preseason and they haven’t changed [a lot],” said Vanney. “They’re a team that’s going to put you under pressure. They’re going to force you into mistakes.”
The team has been led by Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, Mike Grella and Dax McCarty. The emergence of Matt Miazga, a future captain and one of the best young players in the league, has provided stability at the back. The Red Bulls are no longer a team defined by the presence of Thierry Henry.
Jozy Altidore knows the club well. It’s where he began his MLS career.
“My first goal against Columbus [was my favourite memory] from my time there,” he said. “I’ll never forget it. They were patient with me and I have a lot to be thankful to them for.”
For that reason the American international is pleased to see the Red Bulls doing well after a tumultuous offseason.
“They look to have found an identity. Jesse Marsch has done a great job. It’s an organization and a fan base that’s been wanting more for a long time now. It’ll be a great matchup for us.”
News and Notes
Herculez Gomez arrived in Toronto on Tuesday….Vanney indicated Gomez could be available for Saturday’s match versus the Red Bulls….The Reds spent an extensive portion of their training session working on breaking out of their zone in order to counteract the Red Bulls’ press.