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Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley out for several weeks due to knee sprain

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley will be sidelined for several weeks with a right knee strain sustained late in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to visiting Montreal.

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley will be sidelined for several weeks with a right knee strain sustained late in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to visiting Montreal.

Coach Greg Vanney said an MRI showed that the 33-year-old midfielder has a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament.

"Timeline-wise it's weeks, it's not months," Vanney told reporters Thursday. "We'll see just how he progresses, I guess. He'll be out for a little while."

Bradley was felled late in second-half stoppage time by Impact midfielder Emanuel Maciel, whose red card was downgraded to a yellow on video review. Bradley, not one to make a meal of injuries, spent a good time on the ground before limping off and did not return.

Vanney said the explanation for changing the card was that Maciel's challenge was not studs-up.

"Still a dangerous tackle," Vanney argued. "You can still break somebody's leg if you go into them shin-high with your knee or with another part (of your body)."

Bradley, who marked his 200th career MLS regular-season game last time out, has been ever-present in the starting 11 since joining Toronto in January 2014. He had off-season surgery after injuring his ankle in the MLS Cup final loss in Seattle last November, but only missed two games due to the schedule hiatus caused by the pandemic.  

Toronto (5-1-3) heads west Friday to face the Vancouver Whitecaps (2-6-0) on Saturday.

Vanney's team opened the rejigged all-Canadian portion of its schedule with a pair of home wins over the Whitecaps — 3-0 and 1-0 on Aug. 18 and 21, respectively.

Toronto held a combined 38-10 edge in shots (16-2 in shots on target) and had 15 corners to Vancouver's seven in those two games. TFC had 75.2 and 67.4 per cent possession, respectively.

Toronto had a chance to tie Tuesday's game against Montreal in first-half stoppage time but Spanish midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo, normally a lock on spot kicks, flubbed a penalty attempt. Instead of going for goal, he nudged the ball to his right and an onrushing Pablo Piatti knocked it on.

The goal was waved off for encroachment, however.

"It won't happen again," Vanney said of the unusual penalty ploy.

"We've all addressed it and it's behind us," he added.

Toronto is also missing backup striker Patrick Mullins (hamstring). Fullback Richie Laryea (ankle) is questionable for the Vancouver game.

Tuesday's loss to the Impact ended Toronto's 18-game unbeaten run in regular-season play — one short of the league mark. Columbus (6-1-2) vaulted over TFC to move into first place in the league after its 1-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps are second-last in the league, with only expansion Inter Miami (1-6-1) on fewer points.

After Vancouver, Toronto wraps up its Canadian leg with a game Wednesday in Montreal.

The winner of the current Canadian round-robin advances to the Canadian Championship final against the CPL champion from the Island Games. Vancouver, which has lost all three of its games in the mini-competition so far, needs a victory Saturday to keep its slim hopes alive.

Vanney said details are still fuzzy on what's next in the schedule. Travel and other restrictions due to the pandemic may force the Canadian teams to make a temporary home south of the border.

"We have some dates ... of when next-phase games might start for us. Locations, I think, are getting closer to being finalized," he said. 


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press