TORONTO – Just win.
That was the message emerging from Toronto FC's midweek training session.
“We've got to take care of our business or else nothing is possible,” said Jonathan Osorio. “So we're worrying about ourselves. If we don't win, we're out; it's that simple.”
A 4-1 win on Saturday over the New England Revolution at BMO Field saw TFC claw back some ground on the Montreal Impact, who lost 5-0 away to D.C. United – that gap now sits at seven points with four matches remaining for Toronto (Montreal has three left).
But it also saw D.C., who have a game in hand over Toronto, inch closer to taking that sixth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference – they sit two points behind the Impact.
“If we take care of us, hopefully things go our way. We know if we win out, we've got a chance. In this league, you never know,” stressed Osorio. “And we're confident, building off a really good performance against New England; playing a Vancouver team that is also fighting for a playoff spot. It's going to be a good game. If we win, confidence will be in a good spot going into the D.C. game. Right now we focus on this game: we need three points.”
Toronto will play the Vancouver Whitecaps at home on Saturday before the international break. Then away fixtures to D.C. and Montreal lie ahead – the schedule makers hit the jackpot of late-season drama.
With five players called into their national teams – Jonathan Osorio, Tosaint Ricketts, Ashtone Morgan, and Jay Chapman (Canada) and Michael Bradley (USA) – the head count at the BMO Training Ground will be a little smaller during the break, but that extra time will do well for Jozy Altidore and Drew Moor as they continue to work back from injury.
Getting to full strength has been nigh impossible for TFC this season.
The emphatic win over New England was one thing, but the return to normalcy through each training session was equally important for the head coach.
“It was nice to have a game where we were back into a good flow and then to have almost everybody back into training was a big deal for us,” explained Vanney. “We'll have time to prepare for Vancouver, time to prepare for D.C.”
“It bodes well for us to both get and keep guys healthy, but also to prepare and build some consistency that we've been looking for throughout the season. That's the expectation, the hope,” continued Vanney. “Our job is to keep getting results, put pressure on teams above us to have to keep getting results and we'll see how that all plays out. If we can get past Vancouver, get wins in D.C. and Montreal, it puts pressure on those teams to have to get results in their final games.”
The path ahead is clear: only wins will do.
“The attitude, mood, is good,” said Vanney. “The guys are working. We know the situation, but deep down inside we feel like [we] can put pressure on the other teams; if they slip up, we'll be there to take the opportunity presented.”
“Other than that, it is to finish strong,” continued Vanney. “Even if it's for next year, you want to finish this year strong. We want to be able to hit the ground running as we go into next season. We're going right into a tournament (the Concacaf Champions League) again at the start.”
“There is value in these games no matter what,” added Vanney. “Whenever you have a year like this, everybody will be a little uncomfortable in the off-season, as to what direction this will go. Everybody wants to finish strong, that's the group mentality.”