2) The impact of Michael Bradley’s absence.
It was agonizing enough, losing 1-0 to the Montreal Impact in frustrating circumstances and falling just short of the all-time MLS record for league games unbeaten. However, losing Michael Bradley to a right knee injury was a bigger blow.
If it’s possible, Bradley is still underrated in terms of his importance and influence on games. However, underrated or not, TFC know full well how much their captain means to the club.
It tells you everything you need to know about Bradley that he suffered his injury in stoppage time at the end of the Impact game. The irony is not lost in this, given that you would never want to take away his never-say-die attitude, but it ended up contributing to what happened.
The injury was confirmed as a Grade 2 MCL strain. The good news is Bradley will be out for weeks rather than months, although he’ll still be out for a while.
The 33-year-old has been an integral part of the Reds since joining them in 2014. He helped turn around the fortunes of the perennial underachievers and the club is now considered a model franchise in MLS.
As much as Bradley has had his ups and downs in Toronto, he has always been a regular in the starting lineup during his time with the club. He has never played in less than 24 league games in any one season.
In this respect, it will be interesting to see exactly how many games Bradley misses as he recovers. Regardless, it will be a big challenge for TFC to continue producing positive results in the absence of the influential midfielder.
Liam Fraser seems to be the main option to replace Bradley, at least for now. Fraser did start on Saturday night in Vancouver and while no one expects him to be as good as the player he’s replacing, he will still need to perform better.