Toronto FC still grappling with ‘bitter’ loss that ended long, tough season

One among Toronto FC’s greatest stars is not occupied with whether or not or not he’ll be named the league’s most dear participant this season.

In spite of everything, whereas another nominees are nonetheless combating for Main League Soccer’s high prize, Alejandro Pozuelo and his teammates are already again house.

“For me, the MVP, it is not essential,” the 29-year-old Spaniard stated on a video name Friday. “I really feel no good after we lose within the first spherical [of the playoffs].”

Toronto appeared poised for a protracted playoff run after ending the regular-season marketing campaign with a 13-5-5 document, second greatest within the league.

However the membership’s yr got here to an abrupt finish Tuesday when it misplaced 1-Zero in extra time to growth aspect Nashville SC in East Hartford, Conn.

Three days later, the outcome remains to be “bitter,” and the gamers really feel some guilt as a result of they know they may have gone additional, stated goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.

“It stays and it sticks and it will be arduous to scrub off,” he stated.

WATCH | TFC’s season ends early with loss to Nashville:

Daniel Rios scored within the 108th minute as Nashville SC upset Toronto FC 1-Zero in spherical one of many 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. 1:40

The disappointing end punctuated a protracted, arduous season that noticed Toronto’s gamers and employees face unprecedented challenges, from accidents and a condensed schedule to months spent on the street and video games in empty stadiums.

The uncertainty of 2020 has been tough for everybody, stated midfielder Jonathan Osorio, together with skilled athletes who noticed seasons come to a screeching halt in March because the COVID-19 pandemic took maintain in North America.

“You are coping with plenty of issues that occur so rapidly however so slowly on the similar time,” he stated. “It was robust.”

TFC performed only one sport in entrance of followers at BMO Subject earlier than the hiatus. When play resumed, it was in a bubble close to Orlando, Fla., with the MLS is Again match, adopted by an all-Canadian nine-game sequence in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Then, in mid-September, border restrictions compelled all three Canadian golf equipment to maneuver south. TFC arrange a short lived house in East Hartford.

“You needed to have plenty of endurance this yr, I believe. It was robust,” Osorio stated. “It was robust to get your physique prepared for video games after which cease for lengthy durations of occasions after which begin once more so rapidly. An general robust yr for everyone.”

A wave of accidents additionally impacted Toronto. Star striker Jozy Altidore and veteran defender Justin Morrow each missed time, and captain Michael Bradley was twice sidelined, first by an ankle damage after which by a knee sprain.

Going by surgical procedure, rehab and coaching was tough, Bradley stated.

“It is a irritating yr from a private standpoint,” stated the 33-year-old midfielder. “It was a loopy yr. That is not meant in any strategy to be an excuse. It is simply actuality.”

Pozuelo reveals damage

Pozuelo revealed Friday that he, too, had handled a leg damage by the ultimate two or three weeks of the season. He didn’t element the character of the damage however stated he and the membership stored it quiet as a result of he needed to proceed enjoying.

“That is no excuse,” he stated. “I play plenty of video games as a result of I need to play. And I really feel good [to] play.”

Pozuelo noticed motion in all 23 of Toronto’s regular-season video games, and was on the sector for the total 120 minutes of Tuesday’s playoff loss.

He led TFC in scoring with 9 objectives and 10 assists, and was tied with two different gamers for many assists in MLS by the common season.

The MLS pandemic-condensed schedule, which noticed most groups play two video games per week, was arduous on the athletes’ our bodies, Pozuelo stated.

“In soccer, I discovered that we can not play each three or 4 days as a result of we kill the gamers,” he stated. “It is tough. It is tough to play each two, three, 4 days.”

Now that the season has ended, Bradley is trying ahead to coaching persistently and pushing himself bodily. He stated the low season would be the first time all yr that he is been capable of work out for greater than 4 or 5 weeks in a row.

“I really feel good. I really feel robust,” he stated.

The prospect of an indefinite low season stored TFC centre again Omar Gonzalez up Thursday evening. It is arduous to know how one can put together when you do not know while you’ll play your subsequent sport, he defined.

“We have now to be able to battle for an additional trophy at first of the yr, at any time when it comes,” he stated. “So now we have to be prepared. I need to be prepared for my teammates, for my staff.”

After all the things the membership went by in 2020, being ousted from the playoffs within the first spherical hurts, Gonzalez stated, notably as a result of TFC is a membership that units its requirements excessive.

However he hopes the season of adversity will maintain some classes shifting ahead.

“It is positively a yr that we’ll look again on and take so much from,” Gonzalez stated. “As a result of I believe now we have plenty of robust individuals on this staff. And I believe there will be plenty of development from this yr.”

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