If there is any theme that has been consistently present for Toronto FC this season: role reversal. Since their inception, Toronto FC have been known for several things, very few of them positive. Giving away late goals has been one trademark of this team, while incredibly poor defending is the other. This year, defending has been one of the most consistent positives for the team. Tonight's 4-2 victory, after being down 2-0, against the Houston Dynamo, was the latest example of the team coming from behind to win a crucial match.
The main piece in this role reversal has been without question Jermain Defoe. It was once again Defoe who scored twice to gain and then cement the lead for Toronto in the match. Jonathan Osorio and Dominic Oduro had the other two goals. Brad Davis scored both for Houston.
"After we conceded, there was such a long way to go in the game," explained Defoe. "You just have to try and get that first goal back before half time and once you do that you can really try and kick on and get the second goal."
In this match, the theme of role reversal extended into how they won the match. As aforementioned, Toronto have played some of the best defence in their history this year. Instead, tonight it was the offence that won the match despite the defence instead of the other way around.
While Defoe was the finisher, Toronto FC's best player on the night was Jonathan Osorio. The Canadian international has suffered from a bout of sophomore slump so far this year, but was able to find the remedy on this occasion. It was his goal that changed everything for Toronto as it turned the momentum back in their favour. Osorio also played a very important role in both Oduro and Defoe's goals.
"It's been a tough first half of the season with injuries and all," said Osorio of his inconsistency. "But I've done a good job of coming back and being strong and staying healthy, now I feel like I'm getting back into form."
Oduro is another player who has fit perfectly in Toronto. Stylistically, he has been an instant upgrade over Alvaro Rey, the other end of the deal that brought him into town. A large part of that is the direct style that he plays. Oduro goes straight at goal with pace, whereas Rey tended to play too much on the perimeter.
Another example of Toronto's quality offensive effort was the amount of yellow cards that Houston had; five in total. Many of these came from necessary challenges, required to stop Toronto from gaining key field position.
But it doesn't seem possible for Toronto FC to play a match without negative question marks. On this occasion, as aforementioned, it was the backline that almost cost the club their second straight home match. There were instant reminders of past TFC squads as they conceded two goals to Davis in comical fashion, allowing Giles Barnes to walk all over them in the process. While that did almost cost them the match, they were able to recover and at least steady the fort while the offense did the rest.
"We just looked a little lethargic," explained Steven Caldwell of the team's poor start. "We gave away two sloppy goals. But we did a good job of making sure that didn't affect us."
Steven Caldwell was uncharacteristically poor tonight, getting victimized on several occasions. It was one of these occasions, a near miss by Barnes, that Caldwell was injured. While the injury does not seem too substantial, he was walking fine after the match, it doesn't seem like he will be in the lineup Wednesday at this time.
The same goes for Michael Bradley, who will likely be out for a couple more matches. Ryan Nelsen accepted full responsibility for playing him too quickly after the World Cup, even though it was the midfielder's earnest request.
"It's a tough team to get into now," Nelsen joked of Bradley's return. "We've got two boys [Osorio and Warner] who have played well."
Satire aside, the depth of the squad was evident in this match missing both Bradley and Nick Hagglund. As July is an incredibly busy month, it will be crucial that this depth continues to produce. Come to think of it, depth is yet another thing Toronto has never really had over the years.