For basically all recently assembled teams, in any sport, time is incredibly important. It takes time for a team to learn to play together, and they must be given time before evaluating whether or not they will be successful.
In their opening match of the 2015 MLS season, it took Toronto FC 32 minutes to come together as a team after a horrid start to their match with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Their 3-1 victory is but a tick off of a 34 game clock, but the hope is that now that it is ticking it won't stop.
Jozy Altidore's debut didn't quite have the same excitement factor as that of Jermain Defoe, which was always going to be the measuring stick. With two goals, however, he at least matched is statistically and that, on this day, was enough. Octavio Rivero had the lone goal for the Vancouver Whitecaps, with Robbie Findley getting the winner in yet another impressive debut for Toronto.
In fact, all of the debutantes had solid matches. Sebastian Giovinco's first kicks in red weren't headline worthy, but on this occasion they were good enough to get his team the victory. He set up the opening goal and was the most dangerous player on the field throughout.
Altidore got off the most impressive start, even two goals aside. While one of those goals was a penalty it was his effort that created the spot kick. He also showed what he could do off the ball, tracking back on several occasions and providing a complete game. This is an underrated part of his game, and one that makes him invaluable.
Benoit Cheyrou is proving to be exactly the stabilizing presence in the midfield that Toronto FC required. He gives Michael Bradley space and time that he did not have last season, and in the process makes both of them better. Cheyrou played beside Bradley, instead of behind him as was expected, and it was key to Toronto winning the midfield battle.
Damien Perquis continues to be everything that he was billed as: calm, quick and very difficult to break down. His distribution from the back provides Toronto with something that it did not have last season when Steven Caldwell lined up beside Doneil Henry.
Toronto's defense wasn't always top notch, however, and early was exposed immensely. Almost every Vancouver attack exploited Toronto's right side. It wasn't for the reason that most would expect, however, as Warren Creavalle had a good start in his controversial selection at right back over Mark Bloom. Instead it was Caldwell who was often the weak link in a head-scratching high line that Toronto tried to play.
For the first half hour of the match, the high line was made to look silly by Vancouver's pace in attack. Thankfully for Toronto, the finishing was not present to make sure these chances translated to the scoreboard. Rivero had a particularly stunning miss, and the rest of the team followed suit.
After Toronto got on the scoreboard they were able to take over, especially in a second half where Vancouver was barely able to get forward. This, however, was mostly due to their own demise. While Matias Laba and Russel Teibert did a decent job of shutting down Giovinco and co, Pedro Morales had a very forgettable match going forward.
Only time will tell whether or not this match is truly the start of something special, or the mirage that last season's opener provided. However, most of the details this year were far more promising.