TORONTO, Canada—There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s the boys being back at BMO.
After just two games to begin the year, Major League Soccer (MLS) halted all play on Mar. 12 due to the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, meaning the hometown boys, Toronto FC, last played a competitive match on March 7 against New York City FC, winning 1-0 thanks to an outstanding performance from Nigerian rookie Achara.
That was the last time the Reds would see BMO Field, until Saturday, ending a 111 day absence from the fortress on the Lakeshore.
The side has been practicing at the home ground over the last three days, trying to simulate the feeling of being in an empty stadium. Full intensity must be making its way back into the training schedule, as the club gets prepared for the ‘MLS is Back’ Tournament which runs July 8 to Aug. 11.
Toronto’s first match will be against DC United on July 10, which will be followed by their other group matches against Montreal Impact, and New England Revolution. These games, will of course, count towards the Reds’ regular-season record.
The return to the pitch over the weekend, albeit for a practice, is encouraging for both fans and players alike.
Pablo Piatti (yes, he exists) posted images on Instagram, and through an emoji, expressed his thoughts on the pitch he now calls home. Piatti, the teams newest designated player, was absent for the first two matches of the postponed season due to injury, but the layoff will have given the Argentine all the rest he needs.
Fan favourites have been staying active online, sharing images and captions to get the BMO faithful ready to support from the comfort of their own home when play resumes.
20-year-old defender Rocco Romeo also tweeted out images of his attendance in practice.
The young Toronto native is yet to make an appearance for the first team, despite having 58 combined appearances for TFC III and TFC II, before a short loan spell in Denmark.
Following protocol, TFC returned to training in specific stages, starting with voluntary individual sessions on May 11, small group sessions on June 1, and full-team training on June 15. For safety measures, no outside media were allowed to attend closed door practices.
If you’re counting, we’re 11 days away from catching the Reds back in action against D.C. United. They’ll fly down to Orlando some seven days before their first match.