TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC head to Cincinnati tonight and I, for one, am worried about the always looming “trap match.” You know the one. After doing the business against the top-half of the Eastern Conference—NYCFC, Columbus, Philadelphia, New England—The Reds have 90 minutes against Columbus Crew’s former sidepiece: Cincinnati FC.
Cincinnati sit second last in the Eastern Conference, but Toronto should be wary not to look past tonight if they want to keep ahead of the field on this homeward stretch. TFC are seven matches from the playoffs, and in the Supporters Shield seat for the first time in three years.
Can they see it through?
Here’s a look at a grab bag of numbers from the week that was, and a couple things to watch out for tonight.
Alex Bono got the call in New England on Wednesday for just the third time this season. The club has the luxury of having a number-one-caliber backup and Wednesday seemed an ideal time to get him some minutes. It was also a milestone for Bono (the first of a few on Wednesday).
.@Alex25Bono earns his 100th competitive start with @TorontoFC - becoming the 10th man to do so, and tying @drewmoor with 100 on the nose.— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 7, 2020
First keeper with 100 starts (@Stefan24Frei had 99) #TFCLive@WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @vocalminorityCA @LukeWileman https://t.co/HsVa16onLo
Bono has been called off the bench on three occasions as well, which is why his 100th start came in his 103rd appearance for the club.
We know now that the match only required one goal and Ayo Akinola was more than happy to provide it. I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but I know you’re not gonna say “no” to another peek at Ayo doing work and leaving bodies.
It was Akinola’s team-leading eighth of the campaign and his second in as many games. The goal was actually a milestone of sorts for the club, as well...
As we now know, Bones saw out the clean sheet, setting another club record (both he and Stefan Frei collected 28 clean sheets in their first 99 starts with the club.) Note: a keeper cannot earn a clean sheet in a game he doesn’t start/finish. So Bono didn’t have an opportunity to earn one in his three matches as substitute.
At the opening whistle tonight, @Alex25Bono took @Stefan24Frei @TorontoFC record for most starts by a keeper.— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
At the closing whistle, he took his clean sheet record, to boot. #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack pic.twitter.com/yt4hetO7U0
It was also Bono’s 52nd win for Toronto FC—a runaway record—and a number that was later confirmed by the club. Write it in ink!
Bono faced a penalty from Adam Buksa midway through the second half. When the ball sailed over the bar, it marked the fourth time Bono had not conceded a penalty, tying a club record.
The two teammates have now combined to allow only 5 of the past 10 attempts—a marked improvement over historic numbers.
Amazingly, @TorontoFC have only conceded 5 goals on their last 10 PKs faced.— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
A *monumental* improvement over their previous record; an offputting 77 of 88 (87.5%) before Pity Martinez skied his 94’ attempt last summer. #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute pic.twitter.com/NxGFopsmNl
Tonight, Toronto have a golden opportunity to win a handful of MLS matches on the bounce, something they’ve only accomplished twice before.
On Sunday, @TorontoFC will have a golden opportunity to win 5 consecutive league matches for the third time in club history. The previous two occasions were matching 6-packs en route to a 2017 Supporters Shield. #TFCLive@WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/NbIfdQ6Cjg— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
The run that Toronto is on is truly a remarkable one.
They’ve now lost only TWO of their previous 26 regular season matches.
Let's look at a couple sign posts for @TorontoFC— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
Since August 4/19, #TFCLive have lost only TWO of their last 26 regular season matches
(14W, 2L, 10D) with a +18 goal differential@WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/ANONsYD6U3
Over the same stretch, they’ve got 25-5-10 in all competitions (with two Cup Finals).
Open it up to all comps for @TorontoFC ?— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
You get a couple Cup Final losses, but you find a bunch more wins!
20W, 5L, 10D in the past 35 with a +25 goal differential in all competitions. #TFCLive@WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/0liDkhH9Pd
For me, the low point was just before the 2016 Voyageurs Cup Final. Since that point, they are 35 games over .500 (and that includes all of the ‘adventurous’ 2018 campaign.)
June 29, 2016.. @TorontoFC was 2.5 yrs into MB4 era, had 1 playoff loss & were 1 min from missing V Cup and CCL for 4th yr. Then Will broke his leg & won the Cup.— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 8, 2020
4.5 years: 5 VCup Finals, 3 MLS Cup Finals, 1 CCL Final
84W, 49L, 43D +91 GDhttps://t.co/HNohqOzvFO
Toronto will go a long way to improving their 2020 Supporters Shield chances with three points tonight. By day’s end, a few more clubs should be eliminated from contention.
And finally, a couple historical numbers I dug into this week. First, a look at ex-TFC players performances (cough Nick Hagglund cough).
Remember how former @TorontoFC players ALWAYS come back to haunt TFC by scoring on them?#TFCLive have now gone 90 consecutive matches without allowing a goal to a former Red (a runaway record)@WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack @LukeWileman pic.twitter.com/cQIPCvoavU— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 9, 2020
And finally, Toronto FC would do best to continue their current red-free behaviour as the team approaches the third longest spell in club history.
If @TorontoFC keep XI on the pitch against @fccincinnati, they'll go 25 matches without seeing red - a stretch that will be joint-3rd longest in #TFCLive history @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @LukeWileman @KristianJack @offsidetwice pic.twitter.com/n8JlFOtMSy— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 9, 2020
Let me know if there’s anything you’re keeping an eye on this week!