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One Moment – Toronto FC @ Montreal Impact

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Examining a single play from Saturday's match that defined the result

If you want to beat one, you'll have to beat them all
If you want to beat one, you'll have to beat them all
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

There was one moment from Toronto FC's 0-2 win in Montreal that pretty much summed up the entirety of the performance. In fact, an argument could be made that much of their early success has relied on a series of similar moments – and a few stunning saves from Clint Irwin.

With the score knotted at zeros, Damien Perquis attempted to bring down an awkward ball, only to turn it over to the red hot Ignacio Piatti near the centre-circle. Making matters worse, the only defender deeper than Perquis was Drew Moor, who had his hands full keeping Didier Drogba in front of him.

A threatening prospect.

One Moment @ Montreal1


Now, Piatti has undoubtedly been one of the form players this season. Entering the match he had amassed four goals and two assists through six matches – not the sort of player one would hand possession to while in a compromised position if at all avoidable.

That much of his success has come from surging, slicing runs through numerous defenders, let alone one facing the wrong direction like Perquis, only adds more danger to the above situation.

But as he embarks down the left-channel, the same passage that saw him abuse TFC last Fall, something different happened.

First, Perquis backs off.

Rather than lunging into a challenge – as he is wont to do, he keeps the player in front of him, delaying any movement to goal, while forcing Piatti to inch a little bit wider than he may have liked.

One Moment @ Montreal2


Then arrives the support, by keeping Piatti wide, Steven Beitashour has been able to make up a large swath of ground – in just three seconds – to pressure the ball from the other side, limiting the attacking options.

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That secondary defender forces Piatti back in-field, where he runs into the tertiary form of Michael Bradley, tracking back to provide even more support

Also worth noting is what has happened on the other side of the pitch: Moor positions himself to either cut out a pass to Drogba, or mark the man if need be. Providing him assistance is Justin Morrow, tracking back into place to further limit Drogba's space.

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And as Bradley collapses in on Piatti, Will Johnson moves into that central position, occupying the vacated space in the middle should the play develop into that area – as it did.

The play did not fizzle out immediately, Montreal maintained possession with Harry Shipp getting on the ball, but the threat-level was dramatically decreased; nothing would come of what looked initially like a promising chance.

Four seconds after the turnover, TFC had transformed a two-on-two situation into one where they outnumbered the Impact by a two-to-one ratio (six players to three). That is the key take away from this play and one of the reasons the team has been so different defensively this season.

Defending is a collective act. When reduced to a one-on-one game, especially in MLS, the advantage goes to the attacker. But when teammates support each other, it looks this easy to shut down two of the league's most dangerous threats.

Toronto denied Montreal any joy in the attacking third of the pitch because they worked together to make every step difficult.

Ten minutes after that snuffing out of a chance, Jozy Altidore was taken down in the box and Sebastian Giovinco scored what proved to be the game-winner.

It was play such as this that made it possible. Long may it continue.