For the past few weeks, I’ve been saying that this would be the true test for Toronto FC in terms of how much of a competitor they are going to be. San Jose is a very good team in a very competitive conference and Chris Wondolowski is a tough player to stop, I personally didn’t think Toronto could do it. However, Toronto FC played their best game of the season to stop the Quakes 3-1; the win continued their home winning streak of 3 games and showed the new confidence of a team that is missing Jozy Altidore. This was Toronto’s first 3 goal game since the first matchweek and it honestly could have been more.
Oh Baby A Triple
The first goal came early in the 22nd minute. This is a few seconds before the goal.
Johnathan Osorio has a lot of options here. He could play in a ball to the box, he could pass it back to Morgan, or he could do the thing every team fears and give the ball to Giovinco. Which he does. Even more smartly, he does a foot motion that looks like he is going to play a ball in but instead plays a low ball to Giovinco and gets us to this point.
Nobody in the MLS likes to see this. As we saw in the rest of the game, an open Giovinco is a dangerous Giovinco. The offensive genius doesn’t have many options here but as anyone would do in this situation, he plays a cross towards the middle. Look at the middle of the box. Luke Moore is in the process of getting position on the inside of his defender, but that’s not who the ball goes too. Look further to the right, Justin Morrow’s defender is thinking the same thing and not thinking that the ball could possibly get to Morrow.
(Credit to Fat_Guys_Lag on Reddit for Gifs)
Credit to both Morrow and Giovinco for this. Giovinco for the incredible ball and Morrow for the skill and the incredible accuracy on the diving header. Next goal, was mainly the work of San Jose’s defenders forgetting how to soccer.
Sanna Nyassi has an elephant of a touch towards the center of the box of all places and also trips to add to the chaos. After that, destiny plays its course.
Luke Moore does a tremendous job recognizing that he has no space to make a shot and passes it back up to Warren Creavalle. The most crucial part of this was Creavalle not trying to power in a shot. He takes his time going up to the ball and puts in an accurate shot, taking into account the defenders in front of him and where the keeper is situated. I’ve seen lots of players try to thunder this in in similar situations, and it’ll either go out of the stadium or hit someone in front of them, Creavalle did a tremendous job keeping calm and taking a targeted shot.
The third goal was just awesome. Here is a few seconds before the goal that put the game away.
Bradley is about to place a very awesome pass into Giovinco, but one of the key’s here is what Luke Moore does while Giovinco is getting the ball. He doesn’t go on a run immediately, instead he waits for the San Jose backline to freak out that Giovinco has the ball in the box.
The timing on this run is great. San Jose defender Paulo Renato looks back to see where he is and that’s when Moore really turns on the speed. Giovinco times his pass beautifully and accurately, putting it in the perfect position and Moore puts it away with touch that goes right beneath the keeper’s arms. For how fast he was running, that goal had a pretty high degree of difficulty. The skill Luke Moore displayed in this match was awesome and he seems to be showing some improvement over the course of the season. If he keeps doing this, it’d be an interesting card in Greg Vanney’s hand for when Altidore returns. Oh yeah, and that goal and this whole match had San Jose keeper David Bingham like…
Sebastian Giovinco was visibly upset, kicking an innocent water bottle near the end of the game and putting his shirt over his head after his free kick in the 93rd minute hit the post. He might have been upset that his goal count didn’t go up, but he can’t be upset at all about his individual performance. He was laying it on San Jose all game; 2 assists, 7 shots with 4 being on goal, and countless of awesome dribbles that gave the San Jose back line nightmares.
He is putting himself as the best player in the MLS week after week and as his improvement in performances and his comfort with the team increases, Toronto seems to be getting better. Could that have something to do with Altidore being out? With more responsibility, he looks like he wants more to do, and he has risen to the challenge of having to step up and head the attack. The rest of the team is looking like they share in the responsibility as well, as shown by how well they been playing since Altidore’s departure. I’m not saying Altidore isn’t good for the team, but it would even benefit Altidore to come back to a team that has gotten things together than to act like he was the missing piece.
Wondolowski could have easily conquered this Toronto backline considering their weakness of balls being played in the air, and boy did they at least try to take advantage of that. San Jose played 32 crosses, but only one cross was successful.
I’m fairly certain Greg Vanney reads this because after my increasingly scathing criticism of Toronto’s inability to properly mark and defend against the ball in the air, this was their cleanest game yet. The only way Wondolowski could find the net was with a penalty shot after an Ashtone Morgan handball. San Jose got 2 shots on goals from the 17 shots on goals they had for the game, which shows the kind of defensive work Toronto was putting in to this game. A new strategy Vanney seems to have adopted is using habitual "oops" sayer, Nick Hagglund as a substitute instead of a starter. This looks like the back line of the future and one they could use for the upcoming match against the force that is DC United.
To End This like the Blackhawks did to Anaheim
This was the perfect game to play going into a game against DC United, the leader of the Eastern Conference. There might be a rainy pitch to help slow DC United down, but other than that it looks like Toronto is looking for confidence instead of strategic improvements. As much as fans squabbled over it, BMO Field might be a fortress that other teams have a hard time playing in.