With a veteran-laden starting lineup it wasn’t a surprise to see Toronto FC start on the front foot against the California State University Fullerton on Monday night at Anteater Stadium.
But it was the youth heavy side that took the field in the second half that created separation, leading TFC to a comfortable 4-0 win.
Greg Vanney has made shape and structure his focus during the early stages of training camp. Both were solid on Monday. Clint Irwin, making his first appearance for the Reds, wasn’t asked to do much during his 45 minute spell and neither was Quillan Roberts, who took over in the second half.
“We’re still working on some things, on our structure and organization,” said midfielder Jonathan Osorio following the match. “We put ourselves in certain situations to see how we would react and I thought the team did really well. I thought we were organized and you can tell we’re getting our legs under us now.”
“The comfort we’ve established in our shape has prepared us for going forward [in the attack] as well,” added right back Mark Bloom
Sebastian Giovinco opened the proceedings with a perfectly placed free kick in the 15th minute, leaving the CSUF keeper helpless, like so many MLS shot stoppers in 2015.
Luca Uccello, Molham Babouli and Jay Chapman added goals in the second half for the Reds, securing a Canadian hat trick of sorts.
Perhaps most interestingly TFC employed a 4-3-3 formation throughout the game, even with the change in personnel at half. At times it morphed into a 4-5-1, but the intention was clear - Vanney wants to see his team use its width whenever possible.
The Reds found success on the overlap throughout the second half, with Bloom serving as the catalyst on the right.
It’s been a long road back for Bloom, who had his 2015 campaign derailed by injury. For the second game in a row the 28-year-old registered a solid 45 minute shift.
“I feel like a little kid again after about a year of not playing and dealing with injury it’s just so good to finally feel healthy and feel fresh.” said Bloom following the match.
Bloom’s confidence on the ball has been one of the revelations through camp thus far.
“Through the whole recovery process I was very limited in what I could do,” Bloom continued. “As soon as I could start touching a ball that’s exactly what I did and I basically did it every single day during my recovery. It’s definitely paid off. I feel good on the ball. When my fitness catches up with my footwork I’ll be able to piece it all together.”
Bloom didn’t make an appearance for the Reds in 2015 after going under the knife to repair the quadriceps tendon on his right leg and though that was tough to take, perspective was delivered. He’s here now, healthy, and ready to contribute.
“[My goal] is to be confident in my own abilities and not worrying about who is starting. I want to play to the best of my ability and enjoy everyday. That’s the main thing. When you’re hurt for so long you realize how much you miss it. To keep the joy in the game is big for me."
The Reds return to action on Wednesday night, when they’ll take on the Ventura County Fusion at Anteater Stadium.
15’ Sebastian Giovinco
59’ Luca Uccello
68’ Molham Babouli
79’ Jay Chapman
First Half XI: Irwin; Beitashour, Moor, Perquis, Morgan; Delgado, Cheyrou, Osorio; Endoh, Gomez, Giovinco.
Second Half XI: Roberts; Bloom, Zavaleta, Williams, Lovitz; James, Chapman, Taintor; Uccello, Babouli, Madison.