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Taking the High Road: Toronto FC defeat Philadelphia Union

Toronto FC finished up their roadtrip in fine form, by results standards at least. Their 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union wasn't pretty, but they won't mind.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It's the end of the road for Toronto FC, and for once that isn't a bad thing. Almost two months into the season the club will finally set foot on home soil, and their first step will have plenty of momentum after their best stretch of the season.

Today's 1-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union was anything but pretty, but optics are the last thing that matters at this point in the season. Save the "beautiful" part of the game for later, get the results first.

It wasn't like the game was without beauty either, as Sebastian Giovinco once again proved his class, as if he has to underline that fact any more at this point. His curling free kick from range is going to be his second goal of the week candidate this season.

In all of Toronto's wins so far Giovinco has played second fiddle to Jozy Altidore, but on this occasion he was fully in the spotlight. He demonstrated his class from the outset, as Toronto's attack once again made the most of limited opportunities.

For the second straight game, Toronto was out possessed, but in this league hardly matters. DC United, for example, has been a horrible possession team for years but has remained one of the most successful in the league.

It's what you do with that possession that matters, and for the second straight game Toronto FC were able to generate offense, while stifling the offense of their opponent.

The Union only managed one shot on Chris Konopka's net, who was fairly solid in his first ever regular season outing with the club. Although the team's second straight clean sheet was hardly his doing.

A large part of this defensive success has been a result of a tactical shift by Greg Vanney. The backline has looked significantly less vulnerable since the fullbacks stopped trying to play as wingers. Toronto has enough offensive talent on the team, no need to risk defensive coverage for more.

Toronto was also helped to some degree by a poor call that saw a goal from Fernando Aristiguieta wrongly called offside. With all of the breaks that have gone against the reds this season they will surely take it, but it certainly played a big role in them getting full points.

Also, before optimism about the backline rises to unreasonable heights, one must consider the opponents Toronto shut out. Both Philadelphia and Orlando have struggled offensively. Next weekend's game against the Houston Dynamo should be a better test of the club's defensive abilities.

However, considering how the middle stage of the road trip went, Toronto won't care which teams they were able to get results against. They salvaged what could have been a disaster and in the process have set themselves up well for the rest of the year.

Getting a point per game on the road is generally considered passable in this league. Being in a playoff spot with nine points after seven road games as Toronto FC are, is solid.

How they did it, and how they were able to overcome adversity after a couple of awful losses, will give them both momentum and self-belief going forward.

When Toronto return to BMO Field in a week, they will hardly recognize their home. It will be bigger, louder and filled with optimism after what has been accomplished on the road. Hopefully, it will be enough to carry them for the rest of the year.