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Michael Bradley: Toronto FC had ‘a million excuses’ against Seattle Sounders

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The captain paid tribute to the Reds’ mentality after their 1-0 win over the MLS Cup champions.

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The execution was impressive, but perhaps the most significant aspect of Toronto FC’s win over the Seattle Sounders was simply the belief.

Going to CenturyLink Field - where the Sounders had not lost since July 9 of last year - is a daunting prospect at the best of times. Going there without three key players and two other everyday starters on less than 72 hours’ rest should be points in the bag for a team like Seattle, and plenty of people - ourselves included - wrote off TFC’s chances of getting anything more than a scrappy draw.

Fortunately, they are made of much stronger stuff in the locker room.

“We spoke before that, if we wanted, there was a million excuses today,” Michael Bradley told the media afterwards. “Short rest, brutal travel day, early kick off, turf, a few guys at home – you name it.

“Good teams with real mentalities find ways on all types of days to compete and to win. I thought the mentality and the spirit [and] tactically, we had things spot on. We played against a good team in a good stadium, that is never an easy place to play. I really felt like we had things totally under control. I think this is a big win.

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

“Momentum counts for a lot in this league. We had momentum coming in and now to pick up another three points against a team like that in this stadium keeps us moving forward.”

Praise is also due to Greg Vanney. This game was another example of the coach’s increasingly astute gameplanning for specific opponents, with Seattle eventually left to launch crosses into the box because their preferred route to goal - through the central areas of the pitch that Jordan Morris, Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro all try to operate in - was so congested.

I also admire his willingness to throw young and new players into hard games. Sure, it backfired against Atlanta United, when Chris Mavinga had a tough debut. But it sends a really positive message, I think, to the depth players in the squad when Vanney backs up all his talk about needing everyone on the roster to contribute by throwing them in on a big stage, rather than just in Canadian Championship games or a home match against one of the league’s lesser lights.

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

“You don’t get anywhere with two guys or three guys or even just 11,” Bradley added. “Over the course of a long season you need a team. You need every single guy ready to contribute big ways when there moment comes.

“We have a lot of good players. I spoke about a few weeks ago after one of the home games - look, our best attacking players are [considered] some of the best attacking players in the league, and rightfully so. They get a lot of attention and a lot of credit for everything they do for our team in terms of goals and assists and being dangerous.

“For people who don't really watch, for people who don't know really what they are watching, people who don't really watch with a close eye, it is easy to look past so many of our players. So many of our young players continue to improve in big ways. I think really across the board we have a lot of good players that kind of fly under the radar and I think, again, those are words - it is up to every single guy and us as a group to make sure when we get the chance to prove that, that we do.”