MLS Focus: Toronto FC juggles priorities and competitions

Returning from the international break, Greg Vanney, coach of MLS champion Toronto FC, says good performances are still more important early in the MLS season than results.

And what TFC does in the Concacaf Champions League is the short-term priority over MLS.

But the Reds enter Friday night's game at home against Real Salt Lake facing this reality:

They have lost their first two MLS games, and another defeat would make them the first MLS champions who have opened their defense with three straight losses.

Still, Vanney is confident that good performances will get results.

"You've seen that in the league for many many years," he said, "that the first handful of games, teams are settling in. You've had teams who've been off for awhile that understand the urgency of coming off a long off-season because they weren't in the playoffs and so start off big. Everything settles in over the course of the season at some point. That's why I say the performances are as important as anything right now, because you build off performances, you also build off of results, which I think we've had good results, but they haven't necessarily been in the league."

TFC accomplished one of the best performances an MLS team has ever had the Concacaf Champions League, knocking off reigning Mexican champion Tigres in the quarterfinals.

It will return to action in the CCL on Tuesday when it hosts Club America, another Mexican giant, in the first leg of the semifinals.

"For us it's about our performance and trying to be the best version of ourselves Friday," he said, "and then we'll start to prepare for Tuesday."

TFC had only 10-12 players on hand during the international break as five players were with Canada and two were with the USA. But for a change, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore weren't away on international duty. Nor was Italian star Sebastian Giovinco, which allowed Vanney's staff to work on some of the things that went wrong in defeats to Columbus and Montreal.

Vanney said TFC did a good job of holding possession. Breaking down defenses was the issue. He says juggling two competitions is his focus.

"Some of that, for sure, is my job," he said. "I think coaches are in place to try to prepare and to plan and do all these things long-term. Players' jobs are to go out and win each game that they're sent out to play. Those are things I have in mind and obviously we're thinking about."

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