A 2-1 pre-season loss to Cal State Fullerton didn’t faze Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney. He saw it as serving a purpose for the MLS Cup runners-up.
Sunday’s setback came on the eighth straight day of training in California.
“It was a little bit of a wake-up call that you don’t get to just show up,” Vanney said Wednesday after a team training session back in Toronto. “Even if you’re tired, you’ve got to push through it.
“And just because we went to a final doesn’t mean you get to win every game. So I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that we had that result. It’s a nice little message to the group, because they were biting each other a little bit at the end for not having won that game at a bare minimum.”
Vanney used 24 players in the loss to the Titans, who went 10-9-4 last season in NCAA play. His starting 11 featured seven of the starters from the MLS Cup final loss to Seattle in December.
Toronto beat Ventura County Fusion, a PDL team, 3-0 and San Diego State University 3-0 in earlier California scrimmages.
Vanney paid tribute to all three teams, saying they gave it their all against MLS opposition. But he didn’t like what he saw in the California finale.
“Guys were tired,” he said. “They were looking across and the opposition was another college team, no disrespect to them. But there just wasn’t the motivation within the group.
“And I thought everything was just a little too slow and we were a little too casual, mostly in front of the goal.”
TFC is back in Toronto this week, allowing players a chance to reconnect with their families and the team to take care of some marketing duties before returning south next week.
Vanney, who had some three dozen players in California, will take a slightly smaller group of 30 to Orlando on Monday for the next stage of camp. There TFC will play games against Miami FC, the University of Central Florida, Orlando City SC, Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire before returning home Feb. 26. Toronto opens the regular season at Real Salt Lake on March 4.
Like the competition, the Toronto camp will ramp up in Florida.
Captain Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore are both back from the U.S. national team camp but are not 100 per cent. Bradley is fighting a virus while Altidore has a “nagging inflammation” of the knee, which Vanney attributed to switching between grass and artificial turf while on U.S. duty.
“It’s nothing that we have any concern over but we do want to get the inflammation out,” said Vanney.
The Toronto coach says the team’s medical staff is consulting with star striker Sebastian Giovinco over ways to avoid the cramping that hampered him in the playoffs.
With everyone in camp, Vanney says the team can now focus on what has made it successful and what everyone’s role is in making that happen again.
NOTES: Toronto currently has 23 players signed to first-team contracts … Veteran French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou was not at training Wednesday. He was said to be working on a section of his coaching license … French-born Congolese defender Chris Mavinga will wear No. 23 for Toronto.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press