Sebastian Giovinco now has more goals than Toronto FC has conceded through seven games this season. It is a stat as flattering for Toronto FC's designated player as it is for the club's backline. The two have combined in bringing the club a near perfect start to the 2016 MLS season.
That perfect start reached its peak today in a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Not only are the Impact Toronto FC's biggest rivals, and rivals who spanked them 3-0 in last year's playoffs. They are also the top team in the Eastern Conference. Today's win was big on many levels.
It was Giovinco, of course, who scored both goals for Toronto FC. One came from the penalty spot, the other a perfect finish to put the match to bed. The goals were his fifth and sixth of the season, tying him for the league lead.
The atomic ant can in part thank his partnership with Jozy Altidore for his incredibly hot form. Altidore has been the architect of Giovinco goals in the past three games. He assisted on the first two, and today drew a penalty that Giovinco finished with flair.
The pair were aided by the return of the diamond shape in Toronto FC's midfield, which saw Jonathan Osorio play as an attacking midfielder. The Canadian has had a slow start the season but thrived in a more advanced and central position today. He had several chances to score himself before playing a crucial role in Toronto's second goal.
It was a bold tactical move from Greg Vanney, as the diamond midfield often saw Toronto FC create offense while sacrificing defensive stability last season. Today, there was no sacrifice needed.
Having Osorio play higher meant that Toronto could play a better high press. This is something that the Impact struggled to deal with and failed to get consistent service to their attacking players.
While Giovinco thrived, Montreal Impact stars Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti disappeared for large stretches of the game. This was due in no small part to Drew Moor and Damien Perquis, who had an outstanding game in the middle of defense. They were aided by Michael Bradley, who often played as a third centreback.
More than anything, however, it was a team defensive effort that earned the result. Each player on the pitch for Toronto stayed in shape and played their defensive role perfectly today, making them incredibly difficult to break down. As a result, Clint Irwin only had to make two saves in his third clean sheet of the season.
Toronto FC now has an impressive 11 points from their first eight games on the road, and sit third in the Eastern Conference. They will head into Portland next week with a chance to tie their single season record for away wins just eight games into the season.
It also ties the most points the club has accumulated through the first seven games of an MLS season, set in 2009. Four of those first seven games that year were played at BMO Field.
While a lot of soccer, and long summer months without their star players, sit between Toronto FC and their ultimate goal, today was a statement. Toronto FC isn't content with just slipping into the playoffs again this year, they want to be contenders. Today's match proved they are on the right track.