On the road, against the best team in MLS and down a goal early. These are the kind of games that Toronto FC have historically made look impossible to win. This year’s edition of the team, however, continues to look less and less like their predecessors and yesterday’s 2-1 win over DC United proved it.
For one, Toronto have the best player they have ever had leading the way and being the difference game in game out. It was another game, another two World Class goals for Sebastian Giovinco who continues to make his dominance look simplistic. Steve Birnbaum had the lone goal for the home team.
If this game was about proving that Toronto can win without their designated players, than the mission wasn’t exactly accomplished. But most around Toronto will take the return of Jozy Altidore instead of getting an early preview of what this team will look like during the Gold Cup.
Altidore came on and contributed right away, playing a role in Giovinco’s late game winner even though he look slower than his usual pace. Toronto played its best soccer late in the game when there were two designated players on the field.
With Michael Bradley off with the American national team, Benoit Cheyrou seemed to step into his role, and his skin as a new haircut made him look a lot like Bradley from afar. Cheyrou and Osorio worked well together to insure Toronto were the better team in the centre of the park on the day.
While Toronto didn’t exactly prove that they can win without their designated players, the team did show off their squad depth quite nicely in this match.
Luke Moore continues to be solid up top and has formed a very strong partnership with Giovinco. Thought would suggest that it is the Italian who does most of the heavy lifting in the relationship, but Moore certainly creates a lot of space and time for him.
After starting the season off poorly at right back, Warren Creavalle has been a very pleasant surprise in the Toronto midfield. He once again provided a lot of energy and came very close to scoring early in the first half.
Even Jay Chapman got a little bit of action today, and looked good in the process. One can hope that this translates into more playing time for the Canadian during the Gold Cup.
In goal Chris Konopka didn’t need to be excellent, but was certainly important in Toronto claiming three points. He was beaten twice however, but a second goal from Kofi Opare was ruled offside.
Greg Vanney has said that he will continue to play the goalie with the hot hand, and it doesn’t appear that Konopka’s hands are any less hot than they were when he made his first start. The net will continue to be his for now.
The backline in front of him has improved exponentially as well, with Eriq Zavaleta and Damien Perquis being the best partnership Toronto has found in their rotation so far. Perquis in particular continues to impress as one of the best defenders Toronto has ever had.
Toronto FC’s season may still be in the opening act, but there are already plenty of positive signs. Their road form is chief among them, as Toronto has now tied a club record with four road victories.
Last season, it took them 21 games to get four away victories, this season it only took 12. This form on the road surely gives them hope that they can take care of their remaining business at home.
However, having not lost in four straight games, Toronto FC are one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer and beating DC at RFK is their strongest showing yet.
It wasn’t just that Toronto overcame all of the odds to get this result, it was that they truly deserved to win the match that creates such optimism going forward.