TORONTO – Soccer is a team game, so over the course of the season each and every player must contribute.
For Toronto FC on Wednesday night, two more names did so, ushering the side to a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake at BMO Field.
Tosaint Ricketts and Alex Bono, the goal-scorer and the shot-stopper, extended TFC's winning streak to three matches by making an impact at opposite ends of the field. The game's decisive strike came in the 68th minute after Bono hit a long ball forward that was flicked on by Jozy Altidore, touched by Sebastian Giovinco into the path of Ricketts, and blasted by the Canadian past RSL netminder Nick Rimando.
“I was pleased for [Ricketts],” said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney after the match “He should have had one last game – he was gutted that he hit the post on that one – so to get himself started is fantastic. We got the goal we needed and we locked it down.”
Added Ricketts: “I couldn’t sleep for a few nights after hitting the post [vs. Columbus Crew SC]. I wanted to make up for it. It felt great, like my first goal for Canada here at BMO. This is a special place for me. I love to play here.”
With Ricketts providing the firepower, Bono had to help keep a zero at the other end and did so to collect Toronto's ninth clean sheet of the season – a new club record – and his third since taking the starting role.
“[Bono] was great,” praised Vanney. “Quick to get off his line, deal with some things that got in behind us. He was always there to bail us out. He had a phenomenal game.”
The young goalkeeper's performance also spoke of a larger shift in the club ethos, dating back to 2015.
“It's something we established at the end of last year: the leaking of goals needed to be dealt with,” explained Vanney. ”It needs to be our mantra as we continue to try to accomplish big things this year. Our ambitions are to get many more.”
Bono called the clean sheet the main talking point, adding, “clean sheets are not a goalkeeper’s statistic. It’s something that a goalkeeper can’t earn on his own. It is a whole team effort from start to finish. For us as a team to have nine clean sheets and have that be a team record is fantastic.
"Now we are going to try and raise that bar for teams in the future to try and aim for.”