Earlier this week Montreal Impact captain Patrice Bernier said that he wasn't surprised by the fact that Toronto invested so much in their three designated players, it's in Toronto's nature as a city to spend. Tonight, those three players were worth every cent of the millions of dollars they make.
Michael Bradley had a goal and an assist, that assist came on a goal for Jozy Altidore, and not wanting to be left out Sebastian Giovinco scored a penalty after setting up Bradley's opening goal. That circle of brilliance from Toronto's DPs resulted in a 3-1 win over Montreal.
"I thought all three of them were excellent on the night, and I thought all three of them played off of each other and combined and created a lot of problems for Montreal's defending," said Greg Vanney after the match.
While all three designated players had strong performances, it was Bradley's that stood out above the rest. Toronto's captain led by example on this occasion, and scored an incredibly crucial equalizer after his club went down early on an Ambroise Oyongo strike.
This is the strongest return on investment yet that Toronto FC have collected after converting Bradley from a defensive to offensive midfielder. Tonight was the most forward he has played, and his goal came as a byproduct of that fact.
"It's great for Michael, because as he scores it continues to emphasize his attacking ability that is going to be important for our team over the long haul," said Vanney of the significance of how Bradley was able to score his goal.
The chemistry between him and American international teammate and friend Altidore is infectious for the rest of the team, and a big reason why the striker is here. Altidore is able to get behind defenders and Bradley seems to know exactly where he is going.
"I've done that 100,000 times with Michael, saw the space drifted off and the ball was fantastic and I just tried to hit the target," said Altidore of his sixth league goal this season.
This familiarity resulted in the game's winning goal as Altidore gave Toronto fans something to remember him by as he heads out to the Gold Cup after Saturday's match against DC United. While he will be travelling throughout the United States, a part of him will still be in Toronto.
"It sucks that I have to leave because there are some really key games coming up," said Altidore. "I would have liked to have stayed and played those obviously but hopefully when I come back from the Gold Cup I'm ready again and I help the team make a playoff push."
While he may be a footnote in this story, Sebastian Giovinco was far from one in the game. He was back to his usual self after the constant abuse he took against New York put him off of his game.
Giovinco left BMO Field bloody and frustrated on Saturday, today he left the field with the record for most assists by a Toronto FC player in a single season with 7. The penalty goal he scored was his eight of the year, putting him in a three way tie for second place in the Golden Boot race.
To Montreal's credit, or detriment considering the result, they didn't stoop to the easy tactic of clogging up the middle and fouling the life out of Toronto FC. Instead, they used their incredibly potent counter attack which caught the reds out of position several times.
After a game on Saturday that was choppy and unappealing this match was a nice contrast. Both teams put together brilliant moves that highlighted how far the 401 derby has come in terms of talent involved.
Toronto's midfield in particular was mesmerizing at times. While he can never quite seem to find his way onto the scoresheet, Jonathan Osorio is having far and away his best MLS campaign. Meanwhile, Marky Delgado looked very good in his first MLS start.
"For a spectator I thought that was a fun game to watch," said Vanney who had great seats to take in the entire affair. "It was a good soccer game, it wasn't a lot of nonsense in the game it was just two teams going at it."
For a game that was supposed to kick off Major League Soccer's rivalry week, there wasn't much hatred on display. But it was certainly a little bit special that Toronto was able to fend off the Impact and respond to adversity the way they did.
Last season Toronto lost far too many six point games that allowed Eastern conference opponents to pass them in the standings. Fending one off, especially in the way they did it, is a good early sign in their playoff hunt.