Hey MLS, did you miss us? Toronto FC reminded the league what kind of team they are tonight with a resounding 3-0 win at home over the Philadelphia Union.
Victor Vazquez started things off with a cheeky, back foot finish that tricked Andre Blake. Jay Chapman capped things off with a long-range finish to make it 3-0. The man who stood out most, though, had to be Sebastian Giovinco.
Not only did the 2015 MLS MVP score a beautiful goal of his own (highlights below by the way, as always), but he was really the engineer behind Vazquez’s as well as a heap of other chances. He absolutely dominated the attacking third tonight, at times toying with defenders.
The Reds showed tonight why they won so much last year. Even with a makeshift backline and no Jozy Altidore, they utterly dominated a team that was clearly inferior.
Roll on the Seattle Sounders.
90’ Toronto FC 3-0 Philadelphia Union — CANCON BABY! Jordan Hamilton feeds one through to a blistering run from Jay Chapman, and the midfielder scores with an excellent finish into the far bottom corner from probably about 19 yards out.
Jay Hams to Jay Chaps to 3-0. pic.twitter.com/e8A0d6b2Yo— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) May 5, 2018
88’ — Jason Hernandez will enter the match to replace Auro, who went down injured on the far touchline not long ago. Van der Wiel may push further out wide to play right-back now, with Hernandez going in alongside Michael Bradley.
82’ — We’ll get a little more Canadian content here as Jordan Hamilton comes in, replacing Victor Vazquez. Not sure if Giovinco is dropping back more, or TFC are moving to two strikers.
78’ — Nico Hasler’s night is done after a very strong performance; Jay Chapman will come in to see this one out.
72’ — By the way, this happened.
65’ Toronto FC 2-0 Philadelphia Union — 2015 Sebastian Giovinco is making more than a cameo appearance tonight. He carries the ball all the way into the box by himself, almost loses the ball to two defenders, but somehow wins it back and finishes in the narrowest of gaps from the tightest of angles. Incredible work to headline a fantastic night for the Italian so far.
60’ — Sebastian Giovinco shows us a glimpse of his 2015 self as he absolutely brutalizes the Philadelphia midfield. He pulls off an incredibly cheeky nutmeg on Haris Medunjanin before putting the through ball to Jonathan Osorio. No dice for TFC, though.
The most casual of nutmegs from Giovinco. Lovely. pic.twitter.com/EOEdgNDUF3— Mitchell Tierney (@mitchelltierney) May 5, 2018
46’ — We’re back out for the second half. Flags in the north end look a little calmer than earlier but it could very well pick up again.
HT — The referee calls for halftime after a pretty entertaining first 45 minutes. TFC have looked very dangerous in attack, but at times they’ve been barely hanging on defensively. Gregory van der Wiel has bailed the Reds out on numerous occasions, as has Alex Bono. Van der Wiel’s passing has been 90.9% successful so far; he leads all players in that category. The wind has also been pretty clearly a factor, although TFC definitely aren’t shying away from the long balls. They’ll definitely need another goal to settle things down.
45’ — Marky Delgado plays a brutal backwards pass to nobody and C.J. Sapong tracks it down. Ashtone Morgan comes flying in with his studs up to foul him and he receives a (probably deserved) yellow card.
31’ — Yellow card shown to Giovinco as he knocks down a Union defender while making a run into the box. Unfortunate, because he had plenty of space with Auro preparing to cross it in.
29’ Toronto FC 1-0 Philadelphia Union — What a goal!! Sebastian Giovinco plays an incredibly precise pass through two or three defenders to find Nico Hasler on the edge of the box, and Hasler centres it to Victor Vazquez. The Spaniard finishes with a fantastic little flick with the heel of his back foot to completely fool Andre Blake.
This is just a fantastic finish by Vazquez. pic.twitter.com/H0pPjgwqzC— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) May 5, 2018
18’ — Vazquez returned to the field and looks to be okay, if walking a little gingerly. May have heavily bruised his toes or something.
15’ — Victor Vazquez looks to be in a TON of pain just inside the Philadelphia half; looked like he kicked Haris Medunjanin hard in the foot and he just dropped. Plenty of boos from the BMO crowd when the Union tried to keep play going with a long ball; Toronto FC’s players were absolutely furious.
12’ — Ager Aketxe just played Victor Vazquez into the corner with a pretty filthy backheel flick that may have gained him like 20 extra upvotes in Rate the Reds tonight.
9’ — TFC have looked extremely dangerous so far, with a couple very threatening attacking moves and more than a few touches in the box for Giovinco and Osorio. Seba also came very close with a shot from more than 20 yards out that Andre Blake barely got his mitts on.
1’ — Toronto FC will shoot toward the south end in the first half, with the wind at their backs it appears. Seba kicks us off.
Lineups are out! Greg Vanney has opted to stick with the 4-1-4-1 he put out last weekend against the Chicago Fire.
We’ve read this script before, quite recently. Toronto FC have a home game (this time against the Philadelphia Union), and fans are labeling it close to a must-win fixture. The Reds have faced stumble after speed bump after hurricane on their way to this point in MLS; so far, very little has seemed to go right for them in league play.
Tonight, they hope to rectify that a little bit by winning a game that would certainly restore a little bit of faith in this team, which dominated so completely last year. Despite an unending barrage of injuries putting major potholes in the lineup, the Reds will still be fielding an extremely strong side — even if the heart of their midfield is playing at centre-back.
That’s probably my only major concern for the Reds heading into this game. With Michael Bradley unable to roam quite as much as he normally would, TFC are missing a very crucial link between the defence and midfield. They’ll be able to play it out of the back since he and Gregory van der Wiel are excellent with the ball at their feet, but they won’t have a lot of options to pass to in the middle of the park.
Nevertheless, TFC showed last weekend that they can definitely score with their general at the back with the triarii rather than the principes (I apologize for making such a dumb reference but it’s there and I’m not deleting it). So, it’ll be down to Victor Vazquez and Ager Aketxe to try and get Sebastian Giovinco as many touches as possible.
Philadelphia are kind of bad, but not that bad. They’ve got two wins (none on the road), two draws, and three losses. They lost 2-0 at home to Orlando City. They seem to like playing with the ball and dictating the pace of things, as TFC often do, so this can definitely come down to a battle of quality rather than tactics — which Toronto should win.
The Union have some talent up front in C.J. Sapong and David Accam, and Alejandro Bedoya is an excellent midfielder with the ball on the ground. Philly are possibly an easier team to plan for than Chicago, because they’ve played with the exact same lineup, in the exact same 4-2-3-1 formation in all seven of their games.
TFC played in Philadelphia near the start of last season, and drew 2-2. In the return fixture months later, though, the Reds won 3-0 and Seba scored an absolute belter of a free kick in the 10th minute.
These points are there for the taking. No team in MLS is a slouch, and Philly definitely have quality. But Toronto FC have more, and they need to start showing it in this league. Tonight would be the perfect time for an Aketxe screamer.
Team news: injuries & suspensions
Toronto FC: Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, and Jozy Altidore will all miss out. Victor Vazquez is still dealing with some lingering effects of his injury, but he should play tonight.
Philadelphia Union: Defender Richie Marquez is out for over a month with sports hernia surgery, and Fabinho is apparently questionable. Neither player is a regular in the starting eleven, though.
How to watch
Match date/time: Friday, May 4, 8 p.m. EST
TV channel: TSN 1, 4 & 5 (Canada), WPHL-TV PHL17 (Philadelphia)
Live stream: TSN Go, ESPN+
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)
Tonight's lineup. No change from last week in the 11. pic.twitter.com/gZs09CfVc3— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) May 4, 2018