Tag Archives: Toronto

Toronto FC earns draw with Club León in 1st leg of CONCACAF Champions League tie

As first impressions go, there was plenty to like Wednesday in Toronto FC’s first outing under head coach Chris Armas.

Despite missing some key personnel and playing its first competitive match since Nov. 24, Toronto held Club Leon to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie.

The Mexican side is in-season and on a good run of late. But it could not put Toronto away despite dominating possession and coming on in waves as the clock wound down.

While the draw came from a second-half Leon own goal, Toronto pressure forced the mistake. And Armas had promised pressure from his team.

“I love the way we stuck together,” said Armas. “I loved the way we stepped on the field and straight away we were going to try to stick to being who we are and be aggressive on the night. That’s what gets us the goal, from a pressing situation.

“I loved the way the guys dug deep, into the second half . Overall a gutsy performance.”

WATCH | TFC, Club León share spoils in 1st leg of round of 16:

Toronto FC and Club León play to a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg of their Round of 16 series as Andrés Mosquera records an own goal. 1:25

A fierce competitor during his playing days as a defensive midfielder, Armas still burns very bright on the sidelines. He celebrated the Leon own goal that brought his team back as if he had hit the jackpot in Vegas.

The Champions League is CONCACAF’s flagship club competition, with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup against other confederation champions.

Playing on hostile ground, Toronto was without at least five starters. TFC had hinted at health issues in the buildup to the match but, in the closed world of the pandemic, the true extent of the problem did not become clear until the starting lineup was released.

Not dressed were Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, defenders Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Nick DeLeon.

Armas started 18-year-old Ralph Priso and 20-year-old Noble Okello in midfield with 21-year-old Jacob Shaffelburg on the wing. The Toronto bench included 20-year-old Jordan Perruzza, 22-year-old Griffin Dorsey and 20-year-old Luke Singh, a TFC 2 defender signed to a short-term deal ahead of the match.

The youngsters did not disappoint and it took a moment of brilliance for Leon to breach the Toronto defence.

Fernando Navarro opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a spectacular right-footed volley from the edge of the penalty box after Jean Meneses eluded fullback Richie Laryea and found Navarro with a delicate chip. A diving Alex Bono got a hand to the ball but the power of the shot carried it in off the post.

Toronto had eight players in its box but none close enough to stop Navarro’s moment of magic.

TFC’s pressure led to an own goal in the 50th minute as the MLS team lived up to Armas’ pre-game promise. He said Toronto would look to make Leon uncomfortable

TFC substitute Erickson Gallardo did just that, demonstrating the aggressive press that Armas has instituted. The 24-year-old Venezuelan winger struggled to make an impression under former coach Greg Vanney and it looked like more of the same when he gave up the ball cheaply soon after coming on to open the second half.

But he made the goal, stealing the ball off William Tesillo before trying to thread it through to Jozy Altidore. A sliding Andres Mosquera got a foot to the ball at the edge of the box, deflecting it over goalkeeper Rodolpho Cota to give TFC a valuable away goal.

‘A great result for us’

A tiring Toronto held on in the dying minutes with Bono blocking a rocket in the 86th minute. TFC and Leon, who had never met before, will play the second leg April 14 in the Orlando area.

“It’s a great result for us but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said centre back Omar Gonzalez, who was immense at the heart of the Toronto defence. “We consider this halftime.”

Leon was without influential captain Luis Montes, serving a suspension after being sent off in last year’s competition against Los Angeles FC. He will be back for the second leg,

Toronto’s lineup is full of question-marks.

The club said Pozuelo stayed in Florida to have what is thought to be a mild strain re-evaluated. Mavinga, Osorio and Morrow were not cleared to play by team doctors while DeLeon was a game-day decision. Westberg was late joining camp for personal reasons.

And the draw may have come at a cost for Toronto.

Altidore came off in the 74th minute after clutching the back of his right leg. The U.S. international has had a history of hamstring issues.

And Gallardo, who came on to start the second half, had to leave in the 75th due to injury. Armas had to throw on Singh in the 87th minute for his first-team debut.

“I said I’m going to play young players,” said Armas. “Look how may played tonight.”

The Toronto-Leon winner will face either Mexico’s Cruz Azul or Haiti’s Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals. Arcahaie held the visiting Mexicans to a 0-0 draw Tuesday.

Leon came as advertised, shifting the ball around with good passing and movement. But the final ball was often missing or the offside flag went up for the eight-time Mexican champions as they tried to get behind the TFC backline. Toronto also did a good job clogging up space in its own end in the first half.

After a slow start that saw Leon win just two of its first 10 league matches (2-6-2) this year, the Mexican side has returned to form. Leon defeated Toluca 3-1 Sunday to extend its win streak to three and currently stands eighth in the standings at 5-6-2.

TFC opens the MLS season April 17 against CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It was 29 degrees Celsius at kickoff at Estadio Leon, where Canada lost 1-0 to France in its opening game of the 1986 World Cup. Attendance Wednesday was pegged at 30 percent of the 31,297 capacity.

One can argue TFC also failed to score there. But the MLS side set itself up for a more than a chance in the second leg.

Leon won the Liga MX Apertura Liga MX Guardianes title — named in honour of Mexico’s health-care workers — in December, defeating Pumas UNAM 3-1 on aggregate after a 12-1-4 campaign.

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Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Toronto

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET as the Edmonton Oilers battle the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.

Please note that this stream is optimized for desktop or mobile web. If you prefer viewing this on the CBC Sports app, please open or download to watch this program.

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Thousands of Toronto hospital staff haven’t got their COVID-19 shots, memo reveals

Thousands of staff at a Toronto hospital network have still not been vaccinated against COVID-19, prompting an internal email from its president, which has been obtained by CBC News, urging them to get immunized.

Roughly 4,000 employees of University Health Network (UHN) had not registered for their shots by Monday, according to the email sent that day by UHN president and CEO Dr. Kevin Smith.

“While our overall rate of uptake is very good, there are areas and programs where vaccination remains below 50 per cent of people,” Smith wrote.

“We must change this immediately.”

Smith also said he’s worried the hospital network’s supply of vaccines will be greatly reduced in the days ahead as Ontario “expands its list of priorities.”

The plea was made to staff at some of the highest risk for encountering the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the workplace, according to UHN spokesperson Gillian Howard, including those working in the emergency department, intensive care units, inpatient units and COVID-19 units.

Since the email was sent out, Howard said, around 1,000 more UHN workers had registered for their vaccinations, bringing the total to just over 18,000 people who will be vaccinated.

The network has set up a phone line and “vaccine ambassadors” to answer questions from staff, she said.

It was not immediately clear why some employees were slow to register.  

UHN includes multiple hospitals, including Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital.

Early access

It’s not clear how many staff at other health-care networks and hospitals in the Toronto area have been vaccinated or signed up for their shots.

Women’s College Hospital, a separate facility from UHN, told CBC News around 664 of some 929 eligible staff members, about 71 per cent, have been vaccinated so far.

Toronto General Hospital is one of several sites that belongs to the network. (Sue Reid/CBC)

“However, this number is constantly changing as staff numbers fluctuate and we have many who are awaiting appointments in the coming weeks,” said spokesperson Jen Brailsford in an email. 

“This is also likely an underestimate as these numbers are based on self-reporting to occupational health.”

Toronto-area hospital sites had early access to the province’s vaccination rollout, with thousands of doses given to front-line workers and other staff in recent months.

Despite that, hospital outbreaks have continued. UHN alone is currently reporting three, affecting a handful of staff and patients. 

CBC News has also previously reported on how an estimated one-third of long-term care workers — who have been eligible since December — have not yet gotten their shots. 

A memo from the Ontario Ministry of Long Term Care dated March 8 revealed an estimated 67 per cent of staff in nursing homes across the province have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to over 95 per cent of residents.

UHN’s Dr. Susy Hota says the lack of vaccine uptake during the pandemic’s third wave is disappointing. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

According to public health ethics researcher Alison Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, hesitancy among health-care workers can lead to “tricky” ethical issues in the workplace, particularly in a hospital setting.

“It basically boils down to a matter of protecting patients and their right to having a safe space for care, and their colleagues being protected … versus their individual charter right to not have to be subjected to some kind of medical intervention against their will and consent,” she said.

‘Not a good track record’ 

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at UHN, said the lack of vaccine uptake during the pandemic’s third wave is disappointing.

But she stressed that while these are medical professionals, they’re also dealing with the vaccine hesitancy that’s increasingly common among the general population.

“My hospital is huge. We’re like a community in ourselves, like a little village or town,” she said. 

“And there’s a diversity of different roles that people play here. And people come from different backgrounds, and different cultures and have had different past experiences.”

Hota says, from an infection control perspective, figuring out how to combat this hesitancy among health-care workers can be difficult.

“We haven’t been successful in mandating vaccinations in the past; there’s not a good track record,” she continued.

Could mandatory masks or other personal protective gear for unvaccinated workers be an option? It’s not that simple, Hota says.

For one thing, most infections in hospitals are thought to occur when workers aren’t conducting patient care and no longer wearing masks; like chatting in a break room. 

“Masking versus vaccination was tried for influenza, and that didn’t succeed,” Hota added.

Thompson agrees. If each individual employer tries to implement that kind of policy, it’s much less likely to be successful, she said.

“It’s much more effective, probably, if the provincial government were to mandate that vaccines have to be administered for health-care workers, with legitimate exemptions,” she said.

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Toronto FC resumes camp after 17-day pause following COVID-19 outbreak

Toronto FC has resumed full training after an outbreak of COVID-19 that sent players and staff home to self-isolate.

The MLS club had nine positive cases, according to figures released by the city of Toronto. That prompted the team to shut down its north Toronto training centre.

Its last full training session was March 3. Players and staff were tested daily in the interim as TFC worked with Toronto Public Health officials.

Some players were allowed to resume individual workouts last Monday. A club spokesman confirmed Saturday that the squad resumed full training Friday.

But the outbreak prevented Canada Olympic coach Mauro Biello from summoning young TFC talent for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship currently underway in Mexico.

TFC is scheduled to depart Wednesday for Florida, where it will play out of Orlando due to pandemic-related border restrictions.

3 Canadian clubs to operate out of U.S.

Toronto is preparing for a round-of-16 tie with Mexico’s Club Leon in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region’s flagship club competition. The two-legged series opens April 7 in Mexico with the return leg to be played April 14 in the Orlando area.

Toronto kicks off the MLS regular season on April 17 against CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale.

All three Canadian clubs will operate out of the U.S. until border restrictions ease. Montreal is playing out of Fort Lauderdale, home to Inter Miami, while the Vancouver Whitecaps have chosen Sandy, Utah, along with Real Salt Lake.

TFC also confirmed that young striker Ayo Akinola, who has been sidelined by an undisclosed medical issue, has resumed running. He has a medical consultation scheduled for next week with the team hoping he will be given the green light to resume training.

Akinola missed a January camp with Canada due to medical issues.

The 20-year-old had a breakout season in 2020 with nine goals in 15 games.

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Toronto FC, Argos president Bill Manning rewarded with 5-year contract extension

Bill Manning and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment both wanted the same thing. Continuity.

On Thursday, that shared goal turned into a five-year contract extension that will carry Manning, president of Toronto FC and the Argonauts, through the 2025 Major League Soccer and Canadian Football League seasons.

The news comes two days after TFC announced GM Ali Curtis had signed a multi-year extension.

“I like stability. And I think it’s very important in championship DNA,” Manning told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

“I think from an MLSE standpoint it was very important to have a stable front office, which is something I think was very important to Toronto FC,” he added. “But also for me and my family, at this stage of my career, I also wanted some stability and assurance for my future.

“It was easy because both of us wanted a long-term deal. It was a win-win for both parties, I believe.”

Manning joined MLSE as TFC president in October 2015. He added the title of Argonauts president in January 2018 when MLSE acquired the CFL franchise.

TFC was still very much a work in progress when Manning came on board. He had been on the job less than three weeks when he saw the club thumped 3-0 in Montreal in Toronto’s first-ever playoff appearance.

Manning watched the debacle at chilly Saputo Stadium with MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum.

“I was embarrassed,” Manning said after the match. “I was embarrassed as a president and a CEO ΓǪ It’s not something that’s acceptable for me in terms of going forward.”

Success in soccer

Times have changed. TFC has filled its trophy case since, highlighted by the treble in 2017 when the club won the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship.

“It’s something we can be proud of,” Manning said Thursday of the franchise’s turnaround from doormat to perennial contender. “I still think we’ve got a lot more trophies in front of us.”

Perhaps Manning’s best move was not firing then-coach Greg Vanney in the aftermath of that humiliating 2015 playoff defeat

“I think Greg deserves the opportunity to continue what they’ve started here,” Manning said at the time, while acknowledging he had thought hard about the coaching position.

Turning the Argonauts around has been more difficult, on and off the field. Head coaches Marc Trestman and Corey Chamblin and GM Jim Popp were axed on Manning’s watch with the team enduring 4-14-0 seasons in both 2018 and ’19.

The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the pandemic and the league is now exploring possible options with the XFL.

Manning has his hand-picked lieutenants in place with the Argos with franchise icon Michael (Pinball) Clemons as GM and Ryan Dinwiddie as head coach.

While Manning spent 2004 to 2008 with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, as vice president of sales and service (in charge of corporate partnerships and premium seating), he says he relies on the football knowledge of Clemons and Dinwiddie.

“I’m really looking forward to how this comes together. But you’ve seen we’ve had a good off-season in terms of player acquisition, to kind of turn around this roster,” said Manning. “And I’m really excited with these two guys in charge here

Expects CFL season

Manning says he expects the CFL to play in 2021.

“Our intention is to play. It’s in our best interest to play,” he said. “The big question is (will it be) with fans? That is very very important to the CFL in terms of our own business.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of positive signs now lately, in the last month or so with where we are on the pandemic. And I just hope we’ll be able to play and we’re be able to play with fans in our buildings.”

Manning’s existing deal expired at the end of 2020.

“We had pretty much come to an agreement in principle at the end of last year,” he said, adding he wanted to get the future of other people like Curtis sorted first.

“It was important that I had the right structure here,” he added.

MLSE was happy to oblige, it seems.

“Bill has brought invaluable experience to MLSE as president of TFC and the Argos, but more importantly, he has had an important hand in creating a company culture focused on winning and giving back to our community,” Tanenbaum said in a statement Thursday.

“As president of Toronto FC and the Argonauts, Bill’s wealth of experience and many accomplishments have helped shape our leagues for the better and his impact within our company is just as important,” added MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.

2-time MLS executive of the year

Under Manning, Toronto FC has played in three MLS Cups (2016, 2017 and 2019). TFC also won the Canadian Championship in 2016 and 2018.

Manning is a two-time MLS Executive of the Year, earning the honour in 2012 and ’14 during his time with Real Salt Lake.

Over his MLS career. Manning has seen his teams reach two CONCACAF Champions League finals (2011, 2018), five MLS Cups (2009, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019), seven MLS Conference finals (2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019), three Canadian Championship finals (2016, 2017, 2018) and one U.S. Open Cup final (2013).

He also won the MLS Cup with RSL in 2009.

Manning got his start in MLS in 2000 as president and GM of the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

He went on to work for the NBA’s Houston Rockets (2003-04) and NFL’s Eagles (2004-08). He became president of Real Salt Lake and Rio Tinto Stadium in 2008, leaving the club in August 2015 in what was described as a mutual parting of the ways as part of a front-office restructuring.

A native of Massapequa, N.Y., Manning earned first-team All-America honours as a senior at the University of Bridgeport. He played professionally in the United Soccer League (USL) with the Penn-Jersey Spirit (1991), the Valley Golden Eagles (1993) and New York Fever (1994-95) before moving into front-office roles with the Long Island Rough Riders and Minnesota Thunder, in the USL.

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Toronto FC camp remains closed amid 9 cases of COVID-19

Toronto FC’s camp remains closed as the MLS team works with local health authorities on a plan to resume training in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak.

There have been nine positive tests in the TFC camp, according to figures released Friday by the city of Toronto.

“I’ve spoken to everyone on our staff who’s been affected and everyone feels good,” team president Bill Manning said in an interview. “So that’s good news.”

Toronto has not trained since March 3. Manning said the cases involve players and staff.

“We’ve had full confidence in the health and safety protocols,” he said. “Our group has been diligent but, as we’ve seen, almost every team in every league has had to deal with it at one point or another.

“I think it actually reinforces the success of the process because the testing protocols allowed us to identify very quickly and we were able to remove everyone from the situation so that we can get on top of it.”

Dr. Ira Smith, the club’s chief medical officer, has been the point man in working with Toronto Public Health.

“You listen to them and you follow their guidelines and their advice,” said Manning.

Players and staff were initially tested every other day during camp and are now being tested daily as the club looks to put together the consecutive negative tests needed to resume training.

First game set for April 7

There is a clearer view of what lies ahead, however. Manning says the team hopes to leave for Florida the week of March 22 to get in some pre-season scrimmages ahead of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie against Club Leon.

The first leg is April 7 in Mexico. The return leg will be played April 14 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla., where Orlando City’s USL team used to play.

Toronto, which finished out last season playing out of East Hartford, Conn., has chosen Orlando as its U.S. base for the start of the 2021 campaign. The hope is pandemic-related border restrictions will ease at some point and the team can return to BMO Field, which only hosted four league games last season.

TFC opens the regular season April 17 against CF Montreal at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, where Montreal will be based. Toronto’s “home” opener will be April 24 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium. The Whitecaps will be based out of Sandy, Utah, to start the season.

Considering vaccination in Florida

Friday marked the one-year anniversary of TFC cancelling training to await word from the MLS after the NBA suspended its season due to the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Toronto players were at BMO Field, ready to train for a weekend game against expansion Nashville SC, when the club sent them home. The team did not play again until July 13 at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

Toronto, which had already played one game at home, only played three more at BMO Field before relocating to East Hartford.

Manning says the three Canadian MLS teams have shared information about vaccines. The trip to Florida might help, given that the state appears to be looking at giving shots to the general public, including tourists, at the end of April, he said.

“If we have the opportunity to get vaccinated, it’s certainly something we’re going to consider,” he added.

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Toronto FC camp paused after ‘multiple’ team members test positive for COVID-19

Toronto FC’s pre-season has ground to a halt after a number of positive COVID-19 tests.

The MLS team said Monday club personnel are currently isolating and training has halted pending contact tracing and follow-up testing. The club did not identify who tested positive, saying only they were members of the “team delegation.”

The club’s north Toronto training centre has been closed. The club had been practising behind closed doors there and at BMO Field, whose playing surface has underground heating.

GM Ali Curtis said it started with one positive test and is now at “a small handful” of positives, The club is now testing everyone daily while working with local health authorities with the goal of getting “back to training in a safe way.”

Citing privacy concerns, Curtis declined to comment on the condition of those who tested positive.

“We feel good about the strength of the medical protocols. We’re trying to be smart about this and trying to use all our resources to ensure that everyone returns to health and returns to play in a really, really safe way,” he said.

“Every team in every different league has been dealing with this. We were really fortunate in that last year we didn’t have one staff or player test positive during the season. Last season was a great season for us in that respect. This year, we’ve got to respond in the right way to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible.”

Toronto finished out the 2020 campaign in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The club plans to begin the season in Florida, with “home” games either in Orlando or Tampa to start.

Toronto opened camp Feb. 17, allowed to begin its pre-season early to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League. While no date has been announced yet for the game, March 20 has been floated.

The winner of the Canadian Championship advances to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, to meet Mexico’s Club Leon in a round-of-16 tie that opens April 7.

The MLS regular season kicks of April 17.

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Toronto, Peel region ask to move to COVID-19 grey zone, caution against ‘chasing normal too quickly’

After nearly four straight months, top doctors in Toronto and the Peel Region are asking the province to lift stay-at-home orders.

Both are recommending a move into the grey zone of Ontario’s pandemic framework as soon as March 8, which is when the province’s current stay-at-home orders for the regions are set to expire.

The move would still see the regions locked down but with what Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa called “more flexibility.”

Residents “earned this change… often at a personal sacrifice,” de Villa said during a news conference on Wednesday. However, both she and her Peel region counterpart, Dr. Lawrence Loh, cautioned people to continue to stay at home, only leaving for essential reasons.

“I know it has been long and we all want to get back to normal,” Loh said during a separate news conference, but “chasing normal too quickly could mean losing the progress that we’ve made to this point.”

WATCH | Toronto’s mayor, top doctor recommend lifting stay-at-home order, moving back into grey zone

After 100 days in lockdown, Toronto’s mayor and top doctor said Wednesday they’re ready for the province to lift a stay-at-home order for the city. Toronto will be staying in lockdown, but moving into the grey zone of the province’s colour-coded reopening framework. Speaking to reporters, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, called the move a “modest step toward flexibility,” but said its success will come down to “our choices in our daily lives.” 1:12

The updates come as Ontario reports an additional 958 cases of the illness. The total number of deaths connected with the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 7,000 in the province.

However, the new cases reported Wednesday are the lowest single-day increase logged in the last two weeks. In Toronto, there were 290 new cases reported, according to de Villa.

In Peel region, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said they’re averaging 95 cases per 100,000 people, an increase from 88 cases per 100,000 people last week.

A visibly disappointed Crombie had hoped to move Peel region into the less severe red zone.

“I’m really hoping this week’s case numbers are just an anomaly,” she said, adding she will be asking Loh to do weekly reviews “in the hope that we can progress to the red zone and beyond very soon.”

Both de Villa and Loh expressed concerns over the rise of COVID-19 variants, which are more transmissible than the original virus.

In Peel region, Loh said there are currently 100 confirmed cases of variants of concern, up from just five a week ago.

In Toronto, de Villa said “the number of cases screening positive for a variant has more than doubled.”

Both acknowledged how hard this announcement will be for some residents who have now spent 15 straight weeks under stay-at-home orders — 100 days.

A spokesperson for the Ontario minister of health said residents can expect an announcement this Friday, adding that a decision will be made “in consultation with local medical officers of health.”

Loh urged caution, saying that what happens in the coming weeks will determine whether Peel region begins its exit from the pandemic or descends into a third wave.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s top doctor, is urging caution when it comes to reopening, saying ‘a third wave would devastate our small businesses.’ (CBC)

“I don’t want to reopen only to have the province pull the emergency brake,” he said. “A third wave would devastate our small businesses.”

In Toronto, de Villa encouraged people to act in ways that do not “squander” this opportunity.

“While I believe moving into grey is reasonable, we are also scaling up enhanced safety measures to protect those essential front-line workers who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” she said.

“This is the right approach,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory, adding that “vaccinations taken together with regional and economic realities make it the right time for Toronto to move cautiously back.”

Both Toronto and Peel region’s vaccination efforts are being hampered by delays in supply.

“Vaccines do us no good if they’re not in arms yet,” Loh said. “We must stay the course.”

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Toronto FC set to join Raptors, Jays down south to open season

Toronto FC will open the 2021 regular season in Florida due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Tampa has been mentioned as a possible home. The MLS club also has ties to Orlando, having held training camp there in the past.

“We are preparing to open the MLS regular season in Florida, just finalizing our location,” team president Bill Manning said in a text to The Canadian Press.

“Reality is we are preparing to open in Florida as it seems unrealistic we’ll be able to host at home in April. If the government opens things up for us we would immediately pivot back to BMO [Field] but for now we’re preparing to start down south.”

The regular season is scheduled to kick off April 17.

TFC won’t be the only Toronto team in Florida. The Raptors are set to play the entire NBA season in Tampa while the Blue Jays announced this week they will play their first two homestands of the season in their spring-training home of Dunedin, just west of Tampa.

The Jays will review the situation after that, with a return to Buffalo, N.Y. (where they played most of their home games in 2020) a possible next step if coming back to Toronto remains out of the question.

TFC opened camp under the bubble Wednesday at its north Toronto training centre. The league granted TFC permission to start early to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Hamilton’s Forge FC, a matchup whose date has yet to be announced.

The winner will advance to play Mexico’s Club Leon on April 7 in the first leg of a round-of-16 series in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, CONCACAF’s flagship club competition.

TFC played just four games at BMO Field last year, finishing out the season in East Hartford, Conn. Pandemic-related border restrictions also forced Vancouver and Montreal to move, to Portland and Harrison, N.J, respectively.

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Toronto Six romp past Connecticut to clinch top seed in Isobel Cup group

The Toronto Six have clinched the first seed in their group at the National Women’s Hockey League Isobel Cup playoffs.

The Six obtained top seed following a 6-0 victory over the Connecticut Whale in round-robin play at the Herb Brooks Arena.

Toronto Six forward Mackenzie MacNeil scored a pair of goals in the victory. Sarah-Eve Coutu Godbout, Taylor Woods, Taytum Clairmont and Mikyla Grant-Mentis also scored a goal.

The Six will play the fourth-seeded team in Thursday’s semifinals, either the Buffalo Beauts or the Boston Pride. Both teams will play each other Monday to determine the final seed for this week’s semifinal games.

WATCH | MacNeil pockets 2 in Toronto Six win:

MacNeil led the way as the Six shutout Connecticut 6-0 in NWHL round robin play. 0:39

The winner of the semifinals will play in Friday’s championship game.

Toronto is the first Canadian team to participate in the NWHL and is playing in its inaugural season.

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