Bradley: Toronto FC's season 'starts now'

A disappointing loss to D.C. United kicked off a three-game home stand for TFC, a result that added more ground for the team to make up in the Eastern Conference.

TORONTO — This was not the way Toronto FC wanted to start a crucial three-game home stand.

Bolstered by the return of Michael Bradley in the starting lineup, TFC fell flat against Eastern Conference foe D.C. United, losing 2-1 at a jam-packed BMO Field on Saturday.

It was an atypical contest in that Toronto led every single team statistic — from possession to shots to passing accuracy — except the one that counts.

"Frustrating," Bradley said of the performance. "We felt like this was a game we needed to win, that we should have won, but that's how it goes sometimes. Now we need to regroup and use the week to recover a little bit, mentally and physically, and get ready for two home games (against Houston and Vancouver) and we need to pick up some points."

TFC has been chasing the leaders of the East all season long, mostly due to an irregular schedule that has seen the Reds play anywhere between three and six fewer games than most of the league. Saturday's match presented a chance to make considerable ground against a D.C. outfit that is one of three teams standing between TFC and the top of the East, but the home side couldn't take advantage despite outshooting United 19-7.

The result sees D.C. back into first place in the conference, but Toronto still holds three games in hand on the table topping side. Those extra matches will almost all be made up by the end of the month, something that Bradley stressed is an important factor to focus on.

"I think the season for us really starts now," the American midfielder said. "You look at the number of games we have coming up, everybody's back and we have a good chance to get some consistency in terms of the team that we put on the field and the way that we play, and hopefully in the results, and so it's an exciting stretch coming up."