TORONTO - The fun's over, and it's time to go back to work.
That was the message at BMO Field on Friday, where Toronto FC trained ahead of a Saturday meeting with the Philadelphia Union. Two days prior, TFC lifted the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champions for the fourth consecutive year, giving a brief respite to a Reds team mired in a record-breaking funk in MLS play.
The cup win over the Vancouver Whitecaps is already history, said Danny Koevermans.
"If we win tomorrow [against Philadelphia], then I'm happy," the big striker told reporters, saying that it was natural for he and his teammates to feel joyed after the tense final went their way. But with the club still 0-9 in Major League Soccer, he said they need to focus that positive energy towards the league campaign.
The weekend matinee against the Union presents a unique opportunity for TFC to actually build some momentum ahead of the international break. Philadelphia has struggled nearly as much as Toronto this year, with the Union one spot above the Reds in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
But still, the Union is in a better situation than Toronto at the moment.
"[Philadelphia is] not as desperate as us because they already have seven or eight points," Koevermans stated. "We're 15 points out of [a playoff spot], and they're still a little bit close, so they need the points, too. It's going to be a tough one."
Coach Aron Winter has been a consistent beacon of positivity despite the horrendous start, and while he stopped short of making a prediction for Saturday's match, he said that he felt confident that his team could get a result against a fellow cellar dweller.
"[Philadelphia] is a very physical team. They lost a key player, the defender [Danny] Califf. But still, they've got good quality, Winter said. "We know how we have to prepare ourselves to get a good result and we're going to go for it."
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Like his players, Winter said that he hopes the good feelings surrounding the midweek cup victory will spill over into league play, although he couldn't say why TFC has performed so well in the Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions League while doing so poorly in MLS so far this year.
Regardless, now's the time to figure it out, he said.
"When you get on the pitch, you have to win the games," Winter explained. "When it is a cup [match] or MLS [match], it doesn't matter, you have to win. But the most important thing is that we are ready for it and tomorrow we want to get a good result."