Toronto FC never left! They took down Real Salt Lake 3-1 at BMO Field on Friday night. It was a pretty clinical performance from the Reds throughout, hanging onto the ball and generating plenty of great opportunities.
Jozy Altidore scored a brace, and Tosaint Ricketts opened his 2018 account by firing home what was nearly an Ager Aketxe wondergoal.
What did you think of TFC’s performance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to go rate the Reds!
Stay tuned for plenty more coverage of this game over the next couple days.
92’ Toronto FC 3-1 Real Salt Lake — Wicked. Tosaint Ricketts puts the game out of reach by finishing Ager Aketxe’s shot that ricocheted off the crossbar!
82’ Toronto FC 2-1 Real Salt Lake — Real Salt Lake get on the board as Corey Baird gets into the box and finishes just out of Irwin’s reach in the right-hand corner.
Baird pulls one back for RSL. 2-1 TFC. pic.twitter.com/QqDxPy45wy— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) March 31, 2018
78’ — Greg Vanney uses his last substitution of the game to bring Tosaint Ricketts in for Jozy Altidore. Immediately after, Ager Aketxe takes a long free kick from the right side, but sends it curling a couple feet wide.
69’ — Nico Hasler’s night is done after a quietly good performance, including a couple spectacular linkup plays with Auro. Let’s see what Ager Aketxe can do on the right wing.
59’ — Marky Delgado will get some rest after a solid hour of play. Jay Chapman is coming in for the last 30 minutes.
51’ — Clint Irwin may not have played for a few months, but he looks very sharp. He comes up huge with a last-ditch save on former Red Joao Plata
46’ — Back out for half number two!
45’ Toronto FC 2-0 Real Salt Lake — Jozy again!! Seba sends an insane through ball into Ashtone Morgan, who ruins Brooks Lennon’s day and sets it up for Altidore. A clean finish into the bottom right corner from the big man.
Altidore has found his scoring boots again... and what a great little cut back from Morgan to set that up. 2-0 TFC at the half. pic.twitter.com/NTHQSMXOOS— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) March 31, 2018
36’ — Jozy Altidore gets a yellow card running into Justen Glad, and Giovinco picks up a caution as well for manhandling the fallen player a little bit. Tempers flaring up a little between TFC’s strikers and Nick Rimando.
28’ — TFC continue to play very aggressively with the ball in this piece of buildup play. Jonathan Osorio continues to shine with this little move.
23’ Toronto FC 1-0 Real Salt Lake — ANOTHER penalty for Toronto FC, and this time Jozy Altidore steps up to take it. No mistake this time, he hammers it into the left side, two feet in from the post. That one was a deserved penalty, so again karma shows its hand. Altidore scores in Dichio Time to give TFC their first MLS lead of the year.
If you keep going left it has to go in eventually.... Altidore scores Toronto FC's first goal of the MLS season. pic.twitter.com/ivGBXa3n7l— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) March 31, 2018
15’ — A bit of a questionable foul on Jozy Altidore in the box, and Sebastian Giovinco steps up to the penalty spot. Just as he did last season, though, RSL keeper Nick Rimando stops it. Ball don’t lie, eh?
6’ — Marky Delgado wins the ball bravely, and Seba does a Seba thing to send Delgado in, but RSL’s defenders get back just in time to tackle it out for a corner.
Seba has come to play early.... pic.twitter.com/RwyZfyyOZK— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) March 31, 2018
0’ — We’re off!
It has been a long couple of weeks for Toronto FC fans. Not only have we had to suffer through a window with no games, we were also left hanging with a very weird feeling after that 1-0 loss in Montreal.
There hasn’t really been all that much to debate about, either. Most of the narratives surrounding this club seem pretty unified — they’ll be just fine in MLS, the new signings need time to adjust, Sebastian Giovinco’s looked good, Jozy Altidore less so, et cetera, et cetera...
In terms of fiery debate during a long waiting period, this break has not quite been the end of Sherlock season two. It’s been more like a Doctor Who Christmas special, where you wait agonizingly for months with really no idea what to expect, and you start to doubt you’ll even ever see the show again.
Anyway. TFC play Real Salt Lake tonight.
Just like Toronto, RSL haven’t quite burst out of the gate in the 2018 MLS season. Through three games, they have one win, one draw, and one 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Los Angeles FC. They were destroyed at home by the expansion franchise, which is hardly a good sign for a team hoping to contend in the Western Conference this year.
Unfortunately for the Reds, who are hoping for their first win and goal in MLS this year, RSL will be no slouch of an opponent.
To begin with, I’m honestly not sure how they were beaten so soundly by LAFC. Salt Lake had 60% possession, they took 21 shots, and they had an 84% pass success rate. Not bad for a team that lost that badly. It seems they gave the ball away quite a bit, in bad areas.
Mostly, though, RSL struggled to capitalize on their chances, and their defending in the box was pretty pitiful. Like, really really bad. If TFC are going to win tonight, it’ll probably come from the wide players — Gregory van der Wiel mostly, with Justin Morrow out — feeding one of the strikers, who may find themselves with a ton of space.
The home team’s back line was absolutely carved open by through balls, so this could also be open season for the likes of Sebastian Giovinco or even Ager Aketxe (assuming Victor Vazquez is still injured).
RSL have a lot of offensive ability, though. Down the homestretch of last season, they were putting up some enormous wins — 4-1 over the Colorado, 4-0 over San Jose, 4-1 against Portland, 6-2 against the LA Galaxy... it goes on. They even beat the Seattle Sounders 2-0 in September.
Salt Lake just missed the playoffs by one point, which just allowed the San Jose Earthquakes to squeak in and get absolutely smacked (5-0) by the Vancouver Whitecaps. I’d argue RSL could’ve done better.
The Reds’ defenders will want to keep an eye on several key players. Joao Plata, who we know all to well, has two goals already this year. They didn’t have any one breakout scorer last season, but they did have something perhaps more impressive: four players with seven goals, and another with six. Plata, Albert Rusnak, Luis Silva, and Yuri Movsisyan all tied for the team lead in goals, and Jefferson Savarino came in just behind.
Rusnak also put up a pretty solid 14 assists, which is just two fewer than Vazquez had last year. The 23-year-old Slovakian international is definitely one to look out for.
This will be another tough test for the Reds in this young MLS season, but I’d probably bank on them at least scoring tonight. Against the Columbus Crew you could definitely argue they had their minds on the Tigres game a few days later, and there’s a risk of similar distraction here. I don’t think the Reds would let themselves do that, though. I don’t think Michael Bradley would let them do that.
I still wouldn’t panic if they lose, but it would definitely be a bad look to see the defending champions start the season 0-3. Remember last year, when the Reds opened their season with a 0-0 draw away to Real Salt Lake? And remember how that season ended?
Jeffrey went in hard on the “Salt Lake City” theme with his weekly playlist, so I’ll change tack (just because I love the song). Let’s see what you’ve got tonight, Real.
Team news: injuries & suspensions
Toronto FC: Justin Morrow (calf) has been ruled out tonight, and both Victor Vazquez (back) and Chris Mavinga (groin) are questionable.
Real Salt Lake: According to MLSsoccer.com, they have a lot. Defenders Tony Beltran and Taylor Peay, as well as midfielder Jordan Allen, are all out with knee injuries. Defender Shawn Barry and midfielder Luke Mulholland are questionable with hamstring issues. Also with hamstring injuries, but listed as probable, are D Marcelo Silva and forwards Joao Plata and Luis Silva. Defenders Aaron Herrera and Adam Henley are probable despite groin injuries.
Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against Real Salt Lake (Benedict Rhodes)
Toronto FC Prediction League 2018: Round 7 (vs. Real Salt Lake) (Charlie O’Connor-Clarke)
Can Toronto FC field two separate MLS-quality XIs? (Mark Bahensky)
6ix on a Wave: To wait, or not to wait? (Jeffrey P. Nesker)
How to watch
Match date/time: 8 p.m. EST, Friday, March 30
TV: TSN 1, 3 & 5 (Canada), KMYU Utah
Live stream: TSN Go (Canada), MLS Live, ESPN+
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), ESPN 700 (Salt Lake City)
Real Salt Lake: