With Labour Day in the rearview, Toronto FC have a date with the new kids in town. Only a half-dozen league games remain before playoff invitations are posted, so the Reds will be looking to grab three points and some momentum from this Saturday night affair.
TFC will face FC Cincinnati who are emphatically in last place on the MLS table, earning just 18 points through their first 28 matches. For reference (that’s what we do here), those numbers pale in comparison to the infamous 2007 Toronto FC side who earned 25 points in their 30-match inaugural season. Meaning that even if Cincinnati were to win their next two matches (TFC & Montreal), they would still only earn 24 points in their first 30 matches — one below the TFC mark.
Here are a few additional numbers I’ll be keeping an eye on this weekend.
It seemed like TFC were constantly being undone by way of the penalty kick earlier in the season: a trend that has thankfully dissipated.
The 10 attempts given and eight goals conceded were both season-highs for Toronto FC in MLS play. In fact, TFC faced kicks from the spot in both of their first two league matches of the season — as well as an unfathomable SIX over a five match span this summer. But since Wayne Rooney grabbed two points away from Toronto via a 92’ penalty, TFC have only allowed one PK opportunity (and no goals) over ten MLS contests.
WHEN THREE BECOMES ONE
That Rooney goal was also the first marker this season that turned a TFC win into a tie in the 85th minute or later. Unfortunately for Toronto, this feat was equaled the last time out by New England Revolution’s Gustavo Bou.
It was the 25th time in club history and the fifth in two seasons. A calling card of earlier TFC teams, this ill-fated tradition had been completely expunged by the 2015, ‘16 and ‘17 teams.
I think it’s fair to say that this year’s edition of TFC will go exactly as far as Jozy Altidore takes them. The club’s talisman has been battling health issues all season — but when healthy — is contributing at his highest rate as a Red.
Altidore is contributing more than a point per 90 minutes in league play this season — a personal high during his TFC tenure. Statistically speaking, it’s on pace with Sebastian Giovinco’s final two seasons with the club.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS
When Nicolas Benezet scored in Foxborough last weekend, he became the 16th different Red to score this campaign — tying a club record.
Those 16 teammates have scored a total of 50 goals. Here’s the breakdown by competition:
As you can see, Alejandro Pozuelo is just one goal away from becoming the sixth TFC player to score double-digits in an MLS regular season — a feat accomplished 12 times by five previous players.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
KRC Genk’s Alejandro Pozuelo took the field on July 26, 2018 in the second round of Europa League qualifying. He had himself a day - one goal and two assists in a 5-0 first leg victory. Little did he know that 13-and-a-half months later his omniseason would be gearing up for another round of must-win matches.
If Pozuelo takes the field in Cincinnati, it will be his 67th competitive match in 408 days. That works out to a match every 6.09 days for well over a year.
TFC have SEVEN critical matches ahead over 22 days, and it would behoove them to have an effective Pozuelo who has a little left in the tank. Seems that taking a half off against Montreal wasn’t the worst idea Greg Vanney has had this summer.
If Vanney runs Poz out for the lot in September, he’ll reach 73 matches in 429 days, which is a competitive fixture every 5.88 days.
The 700 Club
Of statistical note (if you made it this far, this is just for you!) TFC should be favoured to score a pair this weekend. When they do, they’ll reach 700 competitive goals as a franchise.
JeffreyPNesker wants me to mention that only Doneil Henry has scored for TFC as a player and as an opponent, but that seems unusually cruel, so I don’t think I will.