On record run, Toronto FC hungry for wins

TORONTO — Riding a franchise-record five-game win streak, Toronto FC is greedy for more.

Captain Michael Bradley hopes the beat goes on Saturday, when Toronto (6-1-4) hosts expansion Minnesota United (3-5-2) at BMO Field.

“When you win, there’s confidence, there’s excitement, there’s enthusiasm but there’s also the hunger for more,” Bradley said after training Friday. “You don’t want to settle for anything. Right now we’re in a good mindset of playing, of competing, of not worrying about anything else except for the 90 minutes in front of us.”

Goalkeeper Alex Bono agrees, saying good teams are never satisfied.

“You have to be greedy for wins. You have to keep wanting more and expecting more,” he said. “Once we’ve gotten in the mood of winning and the feeling of winning and the spirit of winning, that’s something you never want to go away.”

Runner-up to Seattle in last year’s MLS Cup final, Toronto was unable to convert ties into wins in four of its first five outings this season. It has been perfect since a 2-1 loss in Columbus on April 15, however.

Toronto’s run of victories has come during a gruelling 20-day stretch that included trips to Seattle and Columbus. TFC has outscored its opposition 10-3 en route.

Saturday marks Toronto’s first look at Minnesota, which has found its footing after a dreadful start that saw Adrian Heath’s squad ship 18 goals in its first four outings (0-3-1). In contrast, Toronto has conceded nine goals in 11 starts.

The Loons are coming off an impressive 2-0 decision over Sporting Kansas City and have lost just once in four games (2-1-1). Still they have yet to win on the road (0-3-2).

“They’re progressing as a team and it’s a game that we have to, for sure, take very seriously,” said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

“We have a lot of respect for Minnesota,” echoed Bradley. “Anybody who thinks this is the easy game at the end of a hard busy stretch is going to be sorely mistaken … We’re not looking past anything. This is a big game and a big chance for us.”

Such warnings aside, Toronto is on a real roll. Consider the fact there were no five-game winning streaks during the 2016 season, and just three in 2015.

Perhaps most impressively is the way Vanney has rotated his roster to keep the squad fresh. He has used 19 players during the win streak.

The last two victories stand out in different ways.

Toronto had just five or six regular starters in its lineup for the 1-0 win in Seattle last Saturday but still played a solid no-nonsense defensive game, limiting the Sounders to two shots on target.

Wednesday’s 2-1 comeback win in Columbus was uglier, with a tired Toronto struggling to contain the Crew. Vanney changed formations — “a lot of adjustments, too many in the grand scheme of things” — and Tosaint Ricketts came to the rescue with 81st- and 90th-minute goals, with fellow substitute Raheem Edwards and Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez collecting assists on both plays.

“The guys worked through all the challenges on the day and just kept at it,” said Vanney. “This team has guys who can make plays and we made plays in the end and got the result out of it.”

Given all of that, the points from the Seattle and Columbus wins are especially treasured. “Gritty, determined results,” said Vanney.

Sebastian Giovinco, who has been nursing a heel contusion, returned to training Friday and should be available Saturday unless the injury flares up. Vanney said the heel was black and blue and the Italian star unable to pull on his boot after the Orlando game May 3.

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio has been sidelined by illness. Defender Drew Moor is still working his way back to full training after a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.

Bono looks to return in goal.

After Saturday, Toronto doesn’t play again until Friday at the New York Red Bulls. That marks the first of five games in 16 days — including the two-legged Canadian Championship semifinal against Ottawa — as the schedule cranks up again.

Just Posted

Red Deer man says more cardiac care needed here

Ryan Gillies spent several extra days in hospital waiting to get a stent in Edmonton

Red Deer gets ready for CFR 45

A $20 to $25-million annual injection to the local economy

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Red Deer agency reports more than 1,000 lives saved with naloxone

Turning Point distributes 5,855 naloxone kits

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month