Toronto FC: Next phase of schedule alludes to how season will play out

Toronto FC’s release of the next phase of the 2020 schedule gives an indication of where they will likely play the remainder of their games this season.

Toronto FC overcame the disappointment of just missing out on MLS history, by beating the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Wednesday night. It was also a much-needed win to get back on track, after their first losing streak of the season.

The importance of the three points is there for all to see, as TFC maintain second place in the Eastern Conference standings, albeit having played a game more than the clubs around them. On an individual level, the game versus Montreal was important for Jozy Altidore, who scored the game winner with his first league goal of the season.

The Reds certainly seem well-placed to qualify for the playoffs and challenge for a fourth MLS Cup final appearance in five seasons. At the same time, nothing can ever be taken for granted, which TFC supporters and Toronto sports fans in general are well aware of.

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In this respect, Toronto FC’s announcement on Friday gives some indication of the challenges they will face in the coming weeks. As per the club’s communications department, they released the next phase of their regular season schedule for the 2020 season.

First up on Sept. 19, TFC will play D.C United in Washington, D.C., followed by a trip on Sept. 23 to face New York City FC. However, what really stands out is the game on Sept. 27 versus Columbus City SC.

The game will be a crucial one, against the club which currently stands at the top of the conference and overall standings. What also catches the eye though, is that this will be termed as a home game for the Reds, despite not taking place in Toronto.

As confirmed by TFC, the game will take place at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. As per Torontofc.ca, general manager Ali Curtis said:

“We felt that it was important to have a surrogate home field that had similarities to BMO Field, in dimension, surface characteristics, and field quality. Also, from a competitive standpoint, a priority was to have our own home field. While playing at BMO Field is always our preferred and ideal option, we think the East Hartford location is the best available option for this next phase.”

The move was understandable, due to the ongoing restrictions with travel between Canada and the United States due to COVID-19. Non-essential cross border travel has been banned until Sept. 21 at the time of posting, but the likelihood is this will be extended.

With this in mind, the reality is that TFC’s temporary home will be more than a one-off occurrence and potentially remain in place for the rest of the 2020 season. This would make practical sense and ties in with our earlier prediction that they would have to relocate to the United States to play the remainder of their schedule this year.

President Bill Manning has said the club is continuing to work with government officials on their travel protocols. However, the fact TFC now have a temporary home confirmed south of the border allows for at least some certainty in these uncertain times.

Some Reds supporters may be concerned about how playing the rest of the 2020 campaign in the United States will impact the club’s challenge for honours. In this respect, it’s all about perspective when determining if there is any genuine cause for concern.

On one hand, TFC have already proved they can deal with being away from home for an extended period of time, after going unbeaten in three league games during the MLS is back tournament in Florida. This is countered however, by the stay in the bubble lasting less than a month, combined with losing their knockout game to New York City FC.

On the positive side, the Reds have a roster which is full of talent and capable of matching up with anyone in MLS. However, critics will point to the negative impact of not having the influential Michael Bradley available in the coming weeks.

Ultimately, we appreciate the remainder of the 2020 MLS season will be a tough challenge for Toronto FC. However, there is every reason to believe they will overcome any obstacles, remain near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and qualify for the playoffs.

Next: Top 10 goals in TFC history

How do you believe potentially playing the remainder of their season South of the border will impact Toronto FC? Are you concerned, or confident they will remain in a strong position in the Eastern Conference standings? Let us know in the comments section below.