TORONTO – The stage is set, and the opponent is now known: another battle with the New York Red Bulls awaits.
After handily dispatching the Chicago Fire on the road in the Knockout Round, the Red Bulls are moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on Toronto FC in a home-and-home series.
New York’s win on Wednesday night meant that the Reds could begin preparations for the Red Bulls a day earlier than possibly anticipated, and that’s exactly what they did on Thursday morning. With a fully healthy squad at his disposal, head coach Greg Vanney led the team in a spirited training session.
Toronto enjoyed a 4-2 victory over the Red Bulls their last time out, with defender Justin Morrow recording his first career hat trick on the night. However, the defender is expecting a a stiffer challenge as the postseason kicks off.
“That game ended well for me, but it will be different this time around,” he explained. “It’s a tough matchup for us. They come out with a lot of energy and like to press the ball.”
Vanney is also anticipating a tough series, but expects a high-flying affair from both sides.
“It’s not in their nature to sit back and wait,” Vanney said. “They’ll find their moments, look to press and create problems for us. When you have two teams that really try to go after the game, it makes for an exciting series.”
Defensively, the team will need to be organized to deal with an attacking side that is in fine form, and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips will undoubtedly be one of the main threats the Reds will be looking to lock up over the two legs.
“They’re playing extremely well right now. We have our work cut out for us for sure,” Drew Moor said following training. “He’s always getting on the end of crosses and he’s got great players around him. When he’s in the 18, you have to know where he is and get close to him. If you don’t, he’ll punish you.”
Hear from Vanney, Moor and Morrow after Thursday’s training session: