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Last night’s win against Orlando only big if Toronto FC can build on it

The season might have found its turning point.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Telfer was astonishingly calm. He had just scored a massive goal for Toronto FC to put them ahead 2-1 late against Orlando City SC, not to mention his first in MLS.

But the young Canadian simply turned and acknowledged the looping ball Auro played in that made the goal possible. It looked almost like he had just scored on the practice field.

“Knowing what has happened before in previous matches, honestly you can’t celebrate until the final whistle,” Telfer said of why he was so subdued after the goal.

Telfer’s volley would stand as the winner, and award Toronto a crucial three points as they look to start their ascendency back into a playoff spot. It could end up being the turning point in Toronto’s season.

It only becomes that, however, if Toronto FC follow it up. That’s why while tonight’s win against Orlando City was big, getting a win next Friday against FC Dallas becomes even bigger. Because, as Greg Vanney put it after the match: “winning is a habbit, just like losing is a habit”.

Toronto FC have followed up both of their other two wins this season with demoralizing losses. The 2-1 loss to Seattle earlier this month was especially a gut punch right when Toronto initially looked to be getting back on track.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

However, for as bleak as things have seemed in recent weeks, Toronto now have the exact same point total as the MLS Cup finalist Seattle Sounders did at this stage last season. In fact, if they can beat FC Dallas in a week’s time, they will be three points ahead of that pace.

Crucially, however, the Sounders followed up their slow start by only losing five times in their final 24 matches. That stretch allowed them to finish second in the Western Conference and earn a first round bye.

Toronto FC won’t have that luxury, they play in a far more top heavy MLS Eastern Conference, but a run like that would certainly put TFC in the playoffs. From there, as they say, anything can happen. Every MLS Cup since 2007 has ended the season better than they have started it, a sign of how important getting hot at the right time is in this league.

“There’s a saying in MLS that it’s really all about momentum,” Jay Chapman said after last night’s match. “So I think that if you can start to pile some wins on like we have in past seasons it will be really big for us. It will kind of start to show everyone that we are still this really good team, and not the team that is used to losing.”

It certainly wasn’t a 2017 Toronto FC performance last night. The team lacked a cutting edge in the final third and looked to be in trouble when they blew a second-half lead. But relatively ugly one goal wins are as good as anything else right now, especially given the quality Toronto FC were missing up top.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

“We gutted out a win,” said Vanney on what his team can build on from this result. “I mean aside from that it wasn’t a tactical beauty, it wasn’t perfect.”

Perfection is something that Toronto can hardly worry about right now, it’s just about accumulating points and creeping ever closer to that red line. At times TFC have been guilty of trying to play a bit too cute of late, and it has hurt them.

Equally important. is using the Dallas game to try and re-establish BMO Field as one of the league’s most difficult away venues. Toronto has already given up eight points and lost twice at BMO this season. They only gave up nine and lost once all of last regular season in Toronto.

“We as a group believe that we’ve given up too many points away from home and so now it’s another home game,” said Eriq Zavaleta of the upcoming Dallas match. “I don’t care who is on the field for us, and who we are playing against, I think we believe that we are gonna win on the night against anyone at home.”

So Toronto FC should take a lesson from Ryan Telfer’s goal celebration: take the win against Orlando in stride, put their heads down, and keep working. Wins followed by loses aren’t going to get them anywhere.