Even in a condensed season, with rotation aplenty as travel and fixture congestion forced MLS clubs to rely on the depth of their squads, Toronto FC talisman Alejandro Pozuelo started all 25 of his club’s matches in 2020.
Pozuelo started the year on fire but didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards at the end of the season and failed to make an impact as Toronto lost to Nashville SC in Round One of the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The finalist and favorite for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award revealed he was carrying an injury towards the end of the season.
“Physically, I feel good but in the last games I had some problem in my leg,” Pozuelo told media on a virtual press conference. “The last two or three weeks I played through an injury but nobody knew because we tried to force through the last month. This is not an excuse. I play a lot of games because I want to play, I felt good enough to play. When I don’t feel good, I say no. But I felt good (enough to play).”
Pozuelo had just one goal and no assists in his final six games, including the playoff loss, after eight goals and 10 assists in the first 19 games of the season.
“The MVP (award) is not important for me,” Pozuelo said. “We lost in the first round, we don’t feel good. We know we could have done more, we have more expectations in this team. The MVP is not important, I feel no good when we lose in the first round.”
Toronto persevered a difficult season, most spent away from home. With difficulties between the United States-Canada border with quarantine guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto spent the second half of their season playing “at home” in Connecticut. A number of players noted how difficult it was to be away from families but didn’t want to blame that on their disappointment in the playoffs.
“This season was tough for everybody, but we tried to do our job,” defender Chris Mavinga said. “It wasn’t easy but I think we did well. We didn’t do it in the playoffs, but we have to be proud what we did in the regular season, then learn from it so we can do better next season.”
Toronto are now focused on the offseason and returning strong in 2021.
“I want to play on a good team, I want us to have as many good players as possible,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “As many competitors as possible, a team that steps on the field and goes for it every single weekend. That’s all I want. When you look at the club’s track record in the types of players and personalities they’ve brought in, by and large, it’s been quite good.”