TORONTO – With a Major League Soccer playoff out of sight and the season drawing to a close, Toronto FC is looking to finish on the right foot when they host postseason hopefuls Inter Miami CF on Friday.
Toronto (9-16-7) has been eliminated from postseason contention for the second year in a row while Miami (12-13-6) sits in the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Heading into the final home game of the season and with only two games remaining, TFC is focused on improvement.
“(It’s about) trying to build on what we’ve been working on and just trying to do it well,” forward Jayden Nelson said. “It’s more looking forward to next season than now, so we’re just building … trying to work hard and get better.”
It has been a difficult stretch for the Reds of late. The team has not won a game since losing to Charlotte on Aug. 27 and is struggling with goalkeeping and defense issues.
Toronto has allowed four goals in their last three games.
The Reds have been on a winning streak since the arrival of Italians Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi in late July. The two international stars quickly made their mark, leading Toronto on a five-game unbeaten streak that ended with a 2-1 loss at the hands of Miami on August 20.
TFC has won just one game since the streak ended, and a poor run of form has seen them fall out of playoff contention in the process.
However, with no MLS games last week due to the short period of international play, Toronto took the opportunity to quickly push the reset button.
“I would say the break came at a perfect time,” Nelson said after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously we’re disappointed with the results we’re getting, and we had big … expectations for the second half of the season, and I don’t think we’ve followed through with that.”
“Just having this little break let us reset and get back strong for the Miami game.”
Miami, meanwhile, will enter BMO Field on a two-game winning streak. Head coach Phil Neville’s side currently sit on 42 points from 31 games – the same as eighth-placed Columbus Crew (9-7-15), who they have a tiebreaker with three more wins.
A win in Toronto will be vital for a Miami side that has gone just 3-10-3 on the road this season and is looking to strengthen its grip on the final playoff spot.
Friday will also be the first game for Toronto midfielder Alejandro Pozello since he was traded to Miami in July. The Spanish star, who was MLS MVP in 2020 with Toronto, has scored two goals in 11 games so far for his new team.
Despite the season not going the way TFC had hoped it would, especially after the arrivals of Insigne and Bernardeschi, their recent home run still serves as an opportunity for the players to give the fans another homecoming. Give victory.
“Every time we step on the field we want to win, and doing it in front of our fans, we obviously want to get three points against them,” Nelson said. Nelson said. “Especially in the last (home) game of the season.”