SPORTS

Toronto FC skipper Michael Bradley says complaining about calls is a cop-out

04/02/2015 02:03 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Toronto FC's marathon road trip to start the season has four more games to go until the MLS team finally plays at home.

So far the journey has been somewhat bumpy with one win, two losses, one sending-off, one after-the-fact suspension, an unsuccessful red card appeal and a disallowed goal.

Midfielder Michael Bradley is no stranger to sharing his thoughts with or about referees. But the intense Toronto captain is keeping an even keel this time.

"Without any complaining, I think certainly we've been on the wrong end of a few decisions so far this year. But that's reality, that's life, that's football," he said after practice Thursday. "You hope as the year goes on that we'll get a few (calls) in our favour and I know that we will.

"After three games it's too early to be feeling sorry for ourselves. It's a cop-out and I think that we've got to still look at ourselves, know and understand what has been good but also realize that there's still a lot of room for improvement. And if we're able to keep pushing ourselves along, then we're going to have a good team. And we're going to have a team that in the end isn't subject to one bad call here, one bad call there. That in the end our quality is going to mean that we're going to be able to win games regardless."

For a franchise that has done its share of complaining in the past, it's a welcome voice of reason.

In July 2013 prior to Bradley's arrival, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke acknowledged his soccer team was "not catching any breaks." But he also sounded a warning to those who wanted to bitch about it.

"I tend to believe that sitting here and revisiting those calls doesn't serve much of a purpose," Leiweke said. "And so we probably have to as an organization spend less time bitching and more time just moving on and understanding that sometimes that's the way those calls are going to go."

The warning was probably aimed at then-manager Ryan Nelsen, a non-nonsense Kiwi whose blood pressure was rising by the week.

Bradley and current head coach Greg Vanney are not that keen on the MLS disciplinary committee, which essentially serves as a Monday morning quarterback. The committee suspended Toronto forward Luke Moore for one game this week and fined him for a dangerous tackle that earned a yellow card in Salt Lake last Sunday.

"I'm not a huge fan of it, as you might have been able to guess," Bradley said of the committee which fined him last September for taking a verbal swipe at referee David Gantar for disallowing a late goal in a 1-1 tie with Chicago.

"I'm somebody who thinks that part of the beauty of the game is the decisions that have to be made on the field ... Part of what makes our game so special is that it's a free-flowing game. There's decisions on the field that have to be made by everybody: players, referees. And part of what makes it so dramatic and entertaining is that there's days when things go for you, there's days when things go against you."

Having someone after the fact examining plays backward and forward with a remote control does not belong in Bradley's vision of the game.

"I don't love it. I certainly understand where they're coming from. They want to crack down on certain things, they want to protect the players, which we all appreciate. But I think maybe in certain cases they have gone a little too far."

Vanney said he disagreed with the Moore suspension "but we live with it."

Starting centre backs Steven Caldwell and Damien Perquis were on exercise bikes Thursday as the MLS team concluded practice ahead of Saturday's game in Chicago (1-3-0). Vanney said Caldwell was unavailable, with Perquis also likely to miss out. Both are nursing calf injuries.

The good news is fullback Justin Morrow returns from suspension and Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore are back from international duty with the U.S.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

MORE:cpSports