Toronto FC enters Wednesday’s all-important Major League Soccer home game against the LA Galaxy with a familiar face on the opposing side.
Galaxy coach Greg Viney led TFC from 2014-2020, a tenure that included the Reds winning the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship in 2017.
“In a lot of ways, it’s like two separate things. It’s great to see Greg. All of his staff, you know some of the guys that played here. Even today when they go to use the facility, It’s great. Hold fast,” Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley said.
“But the reality is, once the whistle blows, it’s a big, big game for both teams. Obviously we’re looking at it from our perspective and it’s a home game. A real opportunity to continue to close the gap. And try to put yourself in a better position because we’re expanding here.”
The last time the two sides met was on July 4, 2019, a 2-0 home win for the Galaxy. Toronto has already beaten LA three straight times and has beaten the Galaxy just once in eight home meetings.
LA hasn’t picked up a point in a draw in Toronto since March 2013.
For Toronto, it’s a return home after two weeks on the road, losing to Miami and then coming off a 2-0 win over Charlotte on Saturday.
Toronto (9-13-6) and Atlanta (8-10-9) are tied at 33 points, but the Reds are tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference with one more win. The New England Revolution (8-9-10) are ninth with 34 points and Cincinnati (8-8-11) is eighth with 35 points.
Columbus (8-6-12) is in last place with 36 points.
The Reds have six games remaining, with four of their next five opponents currently in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Despite losing just once in their last seven, TFC will need every point they can get going.
“We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to get more points,” coach Bob Bradley said. “Can we go on a really good run, win all the games (and) go out as one of the best teams in the league? It could. We’re focused on that side of things and it’s Let’s take it one game at a time.
“I think you’ll see over the years that there are good examples of teams that finish the season strong, go into the playoffs with confidence. Others in the league realize, ‘You know what? That’s a good team. He is playing well. So, we will try to be this team.”
Going into the matchup against the Galaxy, Bradley hopes his team can find ways to move the ball quickly.
“On our best days, I think you see the fluidity when we have the ball. In the last game, when there was a change in our midfield, we had good ideas about how to get Lorenzo (Ensign) in. So that he can be part of some build-up play and help us control the game a little bit more. So, the fact that he’s versatile as a player I think helps us in those ways.
“LA is still a team in how they move the ball, their positional play and the way they spread, you can feel that sometimes they have too much of the ball and then in those moments you know the pure ability to defend in the middle .- The block or lower block becomes more important.
Bradley said “there are still question marks” referring to the health of midfielder Marc-Anthony Kaye and striker Jonathan Osorio. Kaye has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury, while Osorio missed Charlotte’s win due to “not feeling right,” according to Bradley.
The Galaxy, who are in the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and on a three-game unbeaten run, will present their challenge despite familiarity with TFC.
“I think (Gaston) Bergman has come in and quickly become a key player for them. Obviously Ricky Peg (is) a young, really talented player and he played a little bit against Seattle and then the other night. played against New England. (His) pass for the second goal was great,” Michael Bradley said.
“They still have guys like Victor Vazquez and (Javier Hernandez), whoever they decide to play out wide between (Kevin) Cabral and Douglas Costa and (Samuel) Grandier and Efren Alvarez who are talented and talented players. , all a little different but good players again. It’s a good team with a lot of good players. I think it’s a really good game.”