Coach Bob Bradley believes Toronto FC now has the framework to build on

Coach Bob Bradley believes Toronto FC now has the framework to build on

Bob Bradley knew what he was getting into at Toronto FC.

A brilliant soccer mind in Toronto with his son Michael calling it home since 2014, the veteran coach watched the club from afar.

He knew he faced a major cleanup task in 2021 following a disastrous 6-18-10 season last November.

Bradley Sr. said: “I’ve been avoiding being specific all year about anybody that’s not here now and I wouldn’t change that. But there’s a lot to give back.”

An influx of talent during the MLS secondary transfer window has bolstered a roster that has undergone a major overhaul. About 22 members of last year’s first team are gone.

The arrivals of Italians Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Bernardeschi and Domenico Crescito and Canadian internationals Marc-Anthony Key, Donnell Henry and Richie Laria – confirmed on loan from England’s Nottingham Forest on Friday – have added a new dynamic to Toronto.

But with just 11 games remaining, there may be more work to do to get back into the MLS postseason picture. Toronto (6-12-5) heads into the weekend six points and six spots below the playoff line.

Finding an exciting first win on the road will help. Toronto has a chance to do that on Saturday when it visits Nashville SC (8-7-9).

Toronto is 0-7-4 away from home this season — the only team in the league to win on the road — and in 19 straight games (0-13-6) dating back to July. is

While Bradley has Jesus Jimenez as his first-choice attack alongside Insigne and Bernardeschi, he wants more from the Spanish striker at the top of the spearhead. Jimenez leads the team with eight goals but seven of those have come in the first nine games of the season.

He has not scored in the last six league games and has scored just one goal in the last 14.

“We’ve talked to him about what he needs to give us more,” Bob Bradley said firmly.

Bradley also sounded warning signs this week about the workload facing the newly arrived Italians, particularly Insigne and Bernardeschi.

“They just haven’t had the training days. It’s still pre-season in a lot of ways (for them). We’ve set the boundaries minute by minute. They’ve both handled it very well and we’ve gotten to where they’re healthy. , that’s obviously the key. Now we’re just finding a way to continue.”

Michael Bradley, having a resurgent season at age 35, joins Canadians Jonathan Osorio and Kaye in the midfield. With Kaye yet to resume full training through injury, the promising midfield remains a work in progress.

In the backline, Cristo and Laria form an impressive set of backends at full back. Shane O’Neill and Lucas McNaughton proved to be welcome additions at center with veteran Chris Mawenga still finding his form in an up-and-down season plagued by injury.

Henry is eager to impress with World Cup spots on the line for Canada. In goal, Alex Bono is a quality shot stopper with the veteran option of Quentin Westberg.

For Bob Bradley, the foundation is now in place.

“I think we’re close to a frame,” he said. “Then there will be a lot that still needs to be done to provide the right depth, to keep the balance of the team. There is still a lot that will be looked at carefully at the end of the season. But I think when You put it all together, when you are healthy now, the framework of the team is very strong.”

Bradley is still opening a designated player to fill.

Toronto is coming off a 0-0 draw with New England last Saturday and has just one win in its last seven league games (1-4-2).

Sixth place Nashville was just above the playoff line in the West.

“They’re a solid team. Well organized,” Bob Bradley said.

Nashville played to its third straight 1-1 draw at the Portland Timbers on Wednesday with Canadian-born U.S. international Teal Bunbury, son of former Canadian international Alex Bunbury, scoring for the third straight game. It marked his 57th career goal in MLS.

Nashville, which leads all three of those contests, is winless in four (0-1-3). The third-year club has only one longer winless streak in its MLS history, going six straight (0-1-5) without a win in September-October 2021.

Toronto winger Jacob Scheiffelberg joined Nashville on loan this week.

German attacking midfielder Hani Mokhtar leads Nashville with 12 goals. He leads the league in shots (88) and shots on goal (48), compared to 234 and 94 for the entire Toronto roster.

Nashville is undefeated this season when it scores first (7-0-7). Conversely, Toronto is 2-10-4 when it concedes first.

Nashville, which eliminated TFC in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, is 2-1-1 all-time against Toronto.

Order: The MLS Disciplinary Committee fined Insignan an undisclosed amount on Friday for displaying “inappropriate conduct” following Toronto’s July 30 game against the New England Revolution.

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