Seven years ago nobody would have recognized the Toronto FC side that took to the pitch today. For one, they were in all black (or Onyx), as was the crowd. For once the winter jackets didn't look out of place as the sea of black fit perfectly with the uniforms of the home side. There weren't many red coloured seats peeking through either, 22 591 attended the match, a sellout.
The only red on the field on this day came from Michael Bradley's head after a collision with Davy Arnaud. Also contributing was a red clad fan who decided to hop on the pitch and turn a Jermain Defoe break into a 2-on-1 and was promptly escorted off the pitch.
But that's far from the only reason one couldn't be blamed for doing a double take at today's Toronto FC squad. For the second straight week the team proved that they have a quality never before seen by the home supporters.
For one, today's 1-0 victory over DC United was the first time the club has ever won the first two games of an MLS season. It's the kind of new beginning that management touted all off-season for the club, and so far, for once, they are delivering on that promise.
The narrative was the same, and another reason why the current reds seem so foreign: making the most of offensive chances. Jermaine Defoe once again scored the goal, giving him all three TFC has scored thus far. The club was far more wasteful this time than they were against Seattle, but overall they looked much better offensively.
"We'll play better than that probably and lose games," said Head Coach Ryan Nelson. "It was an awkward game for us, we knew it was at home, we knew the field and we knew the conditions. It wasn't pretty, but we saw it out".
A huge part of that was the debut of Gilberto. The Brazilian came in with plenty of praise from the management team but it was hard to be sure exactly how things would play out on the field. But it's hard to find too much to criticize about his debut: not only was he integral in Defoe's goal, the two of them meshed exceptionally.
"We have a lot of similar characteristics," said Gilberto of his partnership with Defoe, "We are similar players, and it makes it easier to play together."
I have a feeling I am going to copy and paste this paragraph throughout my winning match reports this season, but once again Michael Bradley and Defoe were 1a and 1b in terms of player of the match for the home side.
Bradley and Jonathan Osorio once again looked both solid and energetic in the midfield. Jackson and Alvaro Rey complimented perfectly, with the later looking like he could beat just about anyone on the pitch. Meanwhile, Defoe could have had a hat-trick today based on the quality of opportunities he received, hitting the post with kne chance and having two others go narrowly wide, but no one can possibly complain about how he has performed for this club through two games.
The defense that is supposed to be the weak-point of this club continues to be its strength, as they once again conceded the majority of possession to the away side. Doneil Henry and Steven Caldwell are heavily underrated as a defensive pairing, with the younger of the two especially having improved his game. While Justin Morrow hasn't exactly impressed, the unit completed by Mark Bloom/ Bradley Orr has consistently kept the opposition from converting possession into chances and more importantly, goals.
But there is still plenty of room for improvement, and Ryan Nelson acknowledges this.
"We're very well organized but I don't think we've seen the best of us," he said, adding "I think we still have a long way to go as a team".