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WTR Mailbag – On the Dividing of Schedules and Rhythm

Waking the Red's midweek call for your questions – Post-Copa Break, Pre-LA Galaxy

That's a pretty sweet blazer - coming to a club shop near you!
That's a pretty sweet blazer - coming to a club shop near you!
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

When the schedule comes out prior to the start of the season, it is convenient to break it into sections.

Toronto FC's came with some obvious divisions. The first phase was the eight away matches that spanned the first two months.

The next was a run of home matches.

After that, it got a little murky, an interim period, which the club currently finds themselves within.

It began with a return to the road – travelling to New York to face the Red Bulls once more – and it was defined by possible and actual international absences, the pause in MLS action for the Copa American Centenario, and the Voyageurs Cup.

Injuries to Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco further complicated matters, while international call-ups for Michael Bradley and Will Johnson robbed TFC of two starting midfielders.

This was always likely to be an awkward time. Results, stretching back to the home run, have not been what was desired, and there are two league matches, as well as the final of the Canadian Championships, before normal service resumes.

It has been difficult to find a rhythm. As nice as a run of four-straight at home is, it does not help in creating a weekly pattern.

Greg Vanney and company have, however, been able to use this time wisely. Depth was tested and the feedback has generally been that this side has proven it has the pieces to step in when needed.

Dan Lovitz, Mo Babouli, and Jordan Hamilton rose to the challenge in attack, while Ashtone Morgan, Nick Hagglund, and Eriq Zavaleta excelled when given the chance.

Should the US side progress all the way to the final of the Copa, Bradley will be returning some time after July 26. And given his initial time-line for return, Altidore will be nearing fitness around the same period.

The visit of LA and a trip to Orlando, in addition to the two-legs against Vancouver, will lead into the next phase of the season, easily termed 'the meat'. It begins on July 2 with the visit of Seattle.

Summer is always difficult in MLS. The weather gets hotter, the slog a little more difficult, the grind more gristly. It can be an uncomfortable time.

And the fixtures pile up.

Toronto has six matches in each of July and August. Twelve games that will likely define their season.

After that comes the stretch run over September and October, where teams jostle for final position and look to head into the MLS Cup Playoffs with the required momentum.

Toronto will play seven matches over that period.

The front loading of the away games leaves them with a multitude of home ones. Seven of the twelve summer games are at home, as are five of the stretch-run.

On sixteen points from thirteen games, Toronto finds themselves smack in the middle of a congested Eastern Conference. A mere five points separate second from ninth.

As the interim period comes to a close, now is the perfect time to put all of the irregularities of the preceding months aside and focus on finding a rhythm as the games come thick and fast.

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