It took a couple of months, but Toronto FC are starting to play like the team most imagined they would be.
There were enough glimpses of good things from this Reds side in March and earlier in April to indicate they were going to be okay in the long run, but one missing ingredient or another kept Toronto out of the win column too frequently for anyone’s liking.
Now, they are starting to put it all together. Their 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Friday night was their second on the bounce at BMO Field, and takes them - at least temporarily - to a more familiar position of second in the Eastern Conference.
The Reds had numerous chances throughout and took the lead when Raheem Edwards, after receiving a smart pass from Marky Delgado, sent a low ball across goal that Jozy Altidore converted from 12 yards. Toronto added a second just after the half-hour mark when a brilliant flick over the defence from Sebastian Giovinco was smashed in by Altidore from close range.
1. When it all just clicks: There was a point towards the end of the first half when Toronto started to pass the ball too quickly, and became a little loose in possession for a few minutes as a result. It was just zipping off the feet of the men in red all night, and it’s difficult to pick a stand-out player; Giovinco was superb, Altidore probably should have had a hat-trick, Victor Vazquez did what he’s been doing all season and Delgado topped his already-very-good performance of last Friday.
They got a bit of luck, sure; Houston actually had a couple of decent looks at goal and Edwards was offside in the build-up to TFC’s opener. It’s hard not to feel, though, that if that particular move had been called back the Reds would have just sent another wave at the Dynamo, who will score a few goals this season but looked powerless to resist one of MLS’ top attacks.
2. The kids are here to stay: And it might be time to stop calling them kids, to be honest. Both Delgado and Edwards turn 22 over the next three months and on this evidence, they can no longer be considered mere youthful depth in the TFC squad. Edwards is looking more and more assured by the game and gave a 200-game MLS veteran in A.J. DeLaGarza a torrid time here, showcasing not only his speed and skill but also his deceptive strength.
I sometimes think people forget how young Delgado is as a result of the fact he will probably play his 100th MLS game this season, but in his starts here and against Chicago he is beginning to wake everyone up to the potential for growth that is still there. He did all the simple but important stuff we praised him for last week and added in a brilliant pass for the opening goal and a highlight-reel flick to shake off Eric Alexander in the second half.
3. A good time for six points: Toronto have put paid to a couple of early pretenders over the past seven days but Orlando City will be the toughest of this trio of home games, with Jason Kreis’ side winning five of their six games thus far this season to take top spot in the East. In Cyle Larin and Will Johnson they have a couple of players who will be plenty motivated for a match in Toronto, too.
With Seattle and Columbus on the road following Wednesday night’s game this was an opportunity to put up a couple of home wins - and build some confidence - the Reds will not have wanted to waste.
Next up: Toronto are back at BMO Field on Wednesday night for the visit of Orlando City. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.