It has felt like years since Toronto last won, but really it's only been a few weeks. After winning 2-0 in Orlando, Toronto finally looked to have some bite. Yet, I wouldn't jump the gun yet. Toronto played a great game, but having one good game every four weeks isn't going to cut it for a team that is trying to be a contender. There's positives here, but the important thing is to build off the good.
You'll also have to excuse my lack of Champions League level screencap work, I'm in Germany and I technically don't exist to MLS Live right now.
An Altiscore after the Altibore
There is absolutely no coincidence that both of Toronto FC's wins come off of big outings by Jozy Altidore. Altidore is a big component of how the team does, and he had a great night in Orlando in front of very energetic crowd. Both of his goals took incredible solo efforts: his first goal was quite a show after what was a very slow and looked to be typical Toronto FC first half.
It’d probably do you more justice to actually watch this goal. The ability to recognize how slow Orlando was to get back and that they weren’t going to respect the fast spot kick is top notch. Look at how many people are trying to catch him and look at all that open beautiful field in front of him. He could do whatever he wants with that right now and the ability to see how to create that is Altidore reaching his final form. The move to get around Seb Hines was also incredibly skilled and ebbing with confidence.
Orlando City goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts played the shot very well and the fortunate bounce off the crossbar is also what helped this all finish up, but regardless of how this happened is more important than the end result. Not much of a team effort on this at all other than Sebastian Giovinco being there to open up the play, but great solo ability by Altidore on this one.
The second one though... Watch the video because this is easily the best Toronto goal of the year already. After winning the ball back in their own half, Benoit Cheryou had the ball for a bit in this type of play.
You might be wondering, how could this have turned into a goal? Everyone is in frame… or are they? Cheryou channeled his inner Airbender and heaved a long ball that seemed to have gone nowhere. Little did the viewer and maybe even the Orlando City defenders know, the Altidore was lurking.
This is what Toronto has been missing because Altidore’s punishing the defenders yet again for meandering. Looking at how few people there were back to mark someone as fast and big as Altidore turned around on Orlando. Altidore didn’t just stand around like he’s been doing for weeks, he made an attempt to make something happen. Even if he didn’t score here, I’d still be very impressed because this nose for countering hasn’t been seen that often this season, if at all.
He didn’t really have to reel in the ball that much and at the moment, to my dismay, Altidore slowed down. I don’t know if Seb Hines knew he was essentially screening Ricketts like it was hockey, but Altidore went one way, went the other and Ricketts got put into the best seat in the stadium. This was yet another eruption of confidence from Altidore to slow up and fake out not one, but two people. With that, he put the game out of reach and locked up his second multi goal game of the season.
Altidore HAS to keep playing like this. One of his goals was all him, the other was making the most of what his team gave him. This was a tremendous game by Altidore and if he even shows an effort half as great as this continuously, this team will find itself out of the rain clouds.
It Finally Happened
It also seems that after weeks of me berating the back line of Toronto that Greg Vanney finally listened to me on how to bolster up the defense. The back line finally looked aware of everyone, and their marking job was exceptional and boy did it have to be.
At the end of the day, Orlando City had a whopping 28 crosses to Toronto’s 6. Today, they had to not be beaten by the long ball and by balls in the air because otherwise the score could have been 28-2. It helped that nobody on Orlando was particularly fast and most of their advances came slowly so the awareness part was easier to keep track of, but regardless the defensive improvement was very noticeable. Nobody running into each other and nobody trying to correct a mistake for a person they thought was a ghost, just solid and calm marking and communication.
Here's the thing about this win though, Toronto took advantage of the chances that Orlando was giving them and kept them out of the goal, but honestly, they looked like they were playing a mirror world version of themselves. Look at the two goals scored. Lack of awareness on defending? Defeated by a long ball? That was basically Toronto up until this week. Toronto got obliterated on possession because Orlando City was holding on the ball and building up for chances that never happened, which Toronto had problems finishing up until this week too. The Orlando City lion was completely toothless, and though Toronto took advantage of that, but the teams they have trouble with and the teams that are doing well are the fast teams.
Orlando also helped out with their miserable home record as they now haven't won at home in four games. Toronto did well, but they also are playing a team that are in a similar situation to themselves. Both have lots of money and big name stars, but aren't reaching the potential that they were expected to reach. Orlando is probably even worse off as they won't have scored in the entire month of April, with their goal differential being -8 and they only scored once at home on a deflected free kick in the first week.
I hate to be the rain on the proverbial parade, but I would only take this game as a confidence boost and a hope for things to come. They don't really get a big test next week either as they play the Philadelphia Union team that is head captain of the S.S Struggle, but a loss to them would be a catalyst for all the doomtalk that has come up in the past weeks concerning Greg Vanney. I'd even say a draw wouldn't exactly be helpful either. Orlando gave some big help in slowing up any fires from starting, but a slip up against the Union would really be destructive.
To Finish This Up Like Altidore against Orlando
It’s a good thing Toronto won, but I am a very skeptical person, especially because of how this team played after the last time they impressively won. It’d be great for everyone to come back to this after a 10 game winning streak and tell me "Jake you old hag, look at what this all turned into". I’d actually really like that. However, until that moment, I would really look to see some consistency.