Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

On the Thanksgiving holiday south of the border, American-born Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley knew what his father wanted to do: dig into his new job as the club’s head coach and sports director.

The day before, at his inaugural press conference, Bob Bradley said there was a lot of work to be done after a lost season by a team that had reached the MLS Cup final three times from 2016 and 2019.

“Wherever I have been, I have just tried to go in without pretending I have all the answers, and to see if I can go in and take my ideas and turn it into something,” the 63- said. year old Bradley. Wednesday.

Here’s a look at four of the areas he’s likely to focus on:

The identity

Team President Bill Manning said Wednesday that Toronto FC has lost the “amazing” culture that developed during a successful race that included winning the 2017 championship at BMO Field. Getting it back – engaging everyone from players to staff to management – is a high priority for Bradley, who is considering the ability to challenge people to improve one of his strengths. “There were not enough times this year where there was a real commitment from every guy throughout the game,” said the new coach, who recently parted ways with Los Angeles FC and has watched all of his son’s games.

The roster

Manning expects significant roster changes in the low season. That process starts with assessing what they have and what they do not have.

The designated player Alejandro Pozuelo, who had a bad year marked by injuries and a personal affair, said the Reds did not have “enough big players” last season. There have been rumors that the other two designated players, Jozy Altidore and Yeferson Soteldo, both still under contract, will not be back. Resolving these situations quickly will clarify what resources TFC can use to bring in new talent.

“The Jozy situation is unclear,” coach Bradley said. “It’s been part of the problem. It’s been up in the air, so it looks like it’s just a cloud hanging over. I’m sure there will be discussions at some point, and that part must have clarity. ”

New Toronto FC head coach Bob Bradley has a history of successfully challenging players to improve.

There are other significant concerns. Canadian international Richie Laryea and Jonathan Osorio, both core players, have expressed interest in moving to Europe. Successful MLS teams need players like them, a number below the designated players, but crucial to getting the lineup to click. Finding a way to keep them happy and in the fold is a necessity to avoid a complete rebuild in the near future.

“It’s a zero-sum game to say to players, in some cases: You’ve had good days here, but where are you? Is this the right place for you? Are you committed?” said Bradley.

The style

Under former coach Greg Vanney, Toronto FC played a high-volume passing game, moving the ball quickly and holding possession of the ball. That changed under replacement Chris Armas, who was fired midway through last season. Bradley’s team has been known for pushing high and playing the ball on the ground while creating opportunities in the transition. The key for the coach will be to find the style that best suits his players and stick to it.

It starts from the back. Toronto FC leaked 66 goals in 34 league games this year. Better defense must be the first priority – and not just from players in the back line.

“When you lose the ball, everyone’s part of the defense,” Bradley said. “There’s a real sense of how to make it difficult for the other team … this collective mentality and collective push.”

The next wave

The Reds’ up-and-comers – including Ayo Akinola, Jacob Shaffelburg, Ralph Priso – will play a major role in Bradley’s planning. The current list includes nine players aged 24 or under. The coach calls the new group “exciting”, but expects progress. It will be up to Bradley to enable them to improve while balancing the needs of the more experienced players on the pitch.


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