Toronto FC President Bill Manning says he is optimistic the MLS team will soon be able to play again at BMO Field.
Toronto, which ended the 2020 campaign in East Hartford, Connecticut, settled in Orlando this season due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic. But the traveling group returns home Thursday in hopes of hosting games soon.
“The regulations allow us to go home and train, those who are fully vaccinated,” Manning told reporters Sunday from Orlando. “So we will certainly take advantage of that.
“Look, it’s been a long time. It’s been routine. We’ve been here for months. So we’re pretty glad the border restrictions have been eased. So we’ll be back on Thursday after the game against New” England on Wednesday. “
More work needs to be done to get the green light for BMO Field.
“About playing the games, we are still in some discussions there. But everything seems to be going in the right direction,” Manning said. “So hopefully we’ll have good news soon.”
Toronto last played at BMO Field on September 1, 2020. Since then they have played 25 regular season games and one playoff game on the road.
While the team managed to finish second overall in the regular season standings last year at 13-5-5, it is currently in the league’s basement at 1-8-2.
GM Ali Curtis said that all team personnel and almost all players are fully vaccinated. One or two players are not vaccinated or need a second vaccination.
He acknowledged “possible complications for players who are not fully vaccinated, but we will have to see how things develop.”
While government and health authorities urge the public to get vaccinated, Toronto midfielder Nick DeLeon said in late March that he has no plans to do so.
“I never got vaccinated, they don’t give me the flu shot. I don’t do any of that,” he said. “I don’t take medication, I don’t take prescriptions, nothing like that. That’s my personal choice and that’s the way I choose to live my life. And I won’t change that for anyone. I know who I am and I trust it.”
He says that at that time he was “one of the few” among his peers who thought this way.
After the midweek game against New England, Toronto will not play against Orlando City until July 17. Manning said the game will not be at TFC’s pandemic home, Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.
“I’m optimistic,” he said when asked if the game could take place at BMO Field. “I think there are good discussions and things with the pandemic are going in the right direction. You are seeing more and more open things. So I think the protocols that we have for hosting games at BMO Field are very strong and I hope we can. This one. next week will be really important to finalize those discussions and hopefully get a positive decision on it. “
He said the club has a backup plan that involves another US host city in case it doesn’t get the go-ahead. He did not specify the city, saying it had not been finalized.
Manning made his comments during a virtual press conference to address the firing of head coach Chris Armas.