Toronto FC extended their unbeaten run to nine games Sunday afternoon, as the Reds took care of business against the Colorado Rapids, winning 3-2 in front of more than 24,000 at BMO Field on Canadian Armed Forces Night.
Here are a quick few thoughts I had right after the game.
There’s a certain level of quality that French forward Nicolas Benezet adds to the game that has made him an essential part of Greg Vanney’s TFC side. When he left Sunday afternoon’s contest injured just before the first half, the tie changed dramatically. Toronto struggled to string together pivotal passes in the attacking third that would penetrate the Colorado defence, which is where Benezet excels.
And while he scored the third TFC goal, Osorio doesn’t provide the pace, service, or directness that Benezet — or even Gallardo — can provide on the wing. If the French winger misses some time, look for Vanney to once again turn to Tsubasa Endoh to provide a spark down the line after the Japanese attacker opened the scoring with this beauty for the Reds on Sunday.
The best defence is a good… offence?
If there’s one thing that can’t be said about the Reds in their last few outings, it’s that they’re not creating chances. In the first half alone, TFC had countless of opportunities to score, but only managed to put away two. In the second half, Toronto also had an abundance of chances, but also failed to produce in the final third. They allowed Colorado back into the game thanks to some sloppy defending, but Toronto’s presence up top bailed them out. I expect the Reds to have a lot of shootouts down the stretch, but they’ll have to tighten it up at the back if they’re going to want to make a deep run.
Speedy Steady Gonzalez
While Toronto looked shaky at the back at times Sunday night, it’s no coincidence that the Reds improved to 8-2-4 since defender Omar Gonzalez arrived back in early July. Almost Virgil Van Dijk/Harry Maguire-esque, the US International looks like a leader for TFC at the back, providing some stability and assurance in a rather unstable back line. With all the attention on Toronto FC’s two new flashy wingers, it’s perhaps Gonzalez who has been the Reds’ most important signing. Imagine what Toronto’s defence would look like if they didn’t have the 30-year-old veteran?
“In some ways it doesn’t matter how, you just have to get those three points.” - head coach Greg Vanney pic.twitter.com/wTDIvlf08K— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) September 15, 2019
Today’s game was a tough one to analyze. On the one hand, you have the performance that the Reds showed flashes of in the first 25 minutes where it looked as though the team had almost a dozen goals in them. On the other, however, you have an almost-disastrous collapse against one of the poorer teams in the league. The best teams in the league would feast on the Reds if they took their foot off the gas pedal like they did tonight. Nevertheless, TFC walked away with an important three points Sunday afternoon, cementing their spot in fourth place in the Eastern Conference — for now.
With all that in mind, today’s MOTM for me was Tsubasa Endoh. With all the pressure on his shoulders to live up to Gallardo’s performances on the wing, Endoh excelled. If he’s able to provide the Reds with that similar sort of energy off the bench, his versatility could prove to be very valubale for Vanney’s side in the playoffs.