‘We’re still early in terms of sharpness, but training’s been a battle and nobody’s backing down.’

TFC’s Michael Bradley and Pablo Piatti are back, and ready to go.

On yesterday’s Footy Talks Live, Toronto FC’s Greg Vanney joined the crew for an update on his squad’s preparation for the upcoming MLS Is Back Tournament in Florida. Vanney was visibly relieved to be back in business and back at BMO field.

‘It’s nice – this week we’ve been into full training finally. I’ve finally gotten back into my office and have been able to use the facilities. The guys have been on the field competing fully. Yesterday we played some 11 v 11. We’re excited – we’re 15 days away from leaving for Florida and then 7 days after from that we’ll start the competition.’

‘Yesterday the scrimmage was highly competitive. I would say in the years that I’ve been here and we’ve done the intrasquad scrimmage this was up there in terms of the level of ‘compete’ that was going on. We’re still early in terms of sharpness but it was a battle and nobody really backed down. So you can tell that they’re all ready to go, which is a nice sign for us and for the staff as we continue to prepare them for this event.’

One unexpected advantage of returning to action in mid June is that TFC can call upon two hugely important players who would have missed the initial months of the season through injury. Vanney confirmed that both Michael Bradley and Pablo Piatta are now fit, with the new singing in particular beginning to find his feet and his place in the team:

‘Both of them played in the 11 v 11 scrimmage yesterday. Both of them look healthy – obviously looking a little bit sharper. It’s been a while for both of them in terms of when they played their last match – so they’re continuing to get their match fitness, getting used to having pressure from all around you and developing that awareness again, in that sense that you get on the field. Especially for Michael as a central midfielder, he has just this innate sense of where pressure is coming from, in addition to his scanning and looking, and building all of those habits and movements back in.’ 

‘With Pablo, he also has to connect with his teammates and get to learn and develop relationships with the players on the field. He’s still got to grasp a little bit what his role is within our team, and what that feels like on the field. So there’s a few more things that he’s still trying to connect to. But physically he looks great – he’s conducted everything from when we’ve come back to now.’

‘His fitness level [is good], he looks quick, and over the first 10 to 15 yards he’s as shifty and quick as anybody. He’s left footed which adds another unique perspective for us. Everybody is coming along, everybody’s in a good spot physically and healthy, and now, again, we’re building our game and our relationships out on the field.’

Edwin Tubb