When Marky Delgado scored in the 14th minute, slamming home a rebound Matt Lampson should never have allowed, it marked the first time this season that the Chicago Fire gave up the game's first goal at home, and just the second time all season they've trailed at home.
When the final whistle blew on Toronto FC's 3-1 win in Bridgeview, it marked the end of Chicago's 11-game home unbeaten streak, and the end of Chicago's nine-game home winning streak. They had been thoroughly vanquished by the Reds.
If that's all it was, it would've been a big win. But it wasn't just that, nor was it "just" the latest in a 7-game unbeaten run for TFC, nor was it just more breathing room in the Supporters' Shield race (TFC are four points clear of NYCFC as of Week 24).
No, the Reds are now officially dancing with the record books. As I've written before, Toronto FC have a chance to write history in this 2017 season, and at least temporarily end the debate of "who's the best team ever to play in MLS?"
Now that they've won at Chicago – ostensibly the hardest game left on their schedule – and have just nine games left, it's time to take a real look at where they stand, and what they might be able to pull off if they keep playing as they have been
No Canadian team has ever won it. At this point it would be shocking if TFC didn't become the first. Here are the numbers, courtesy of
That would also make them the first team ever to win a Shield/Canadian Championship double, which is a nice starting point.
2+ Points Per Game
Only three teams in MLS history have ever gone for 2 ppg for an entire season: The 1998 Galaxy (2.13 ppg), the 2001 Fusion (2.04 ppg in a shortened, 26-game season), and the 2005 Quakes (2.0 ppg).
Through 25 games TFC have 50 points, which puts them at exactly 2 ppg.
That 1998 Galaxy team collected 68 points, which is the all-time mark. The best mark in the post-shootout era is 67 by the 2011 Galaxy.
The Reds have three losses. The all-time mark is four, by the 2005 Quakes, and a pair of teams back in 2010 – RSL and Dallas.
Only one team has cracked 20 wins in the post-shootout era: the 2014 Seattle Sounders. TFC would have to win six of their last nine to get there.
2+ Goals Per Game
In the first five years a bunch of teams hit this mark – MLS was a much more open, defensively naive league back then. But since 2001, the only teams to average two or more goals per game are the 2012 Quakes and the 2014 Galaxy.
TFC have bagged 49 goals thus far, so they're .05 under the mark they need to hit.
70+ Goals in a Season
Only three teams have ever done it: 1998 Galaxy (85 goals), 1998 D.C. United (74 goals) and the 2012 Quakes (72 goals). The Reds need 21 goals in their final nine games, which is doable as in their previous nine games they've scored... 21 goals.
+30 Goal Differential
Only two teams – the 1998 Galaxy (+41) and 2014 Galaxy (+32) have ever done it. TFC are now +24. For context: FC Dallas won the Shield last year at +10.
There is no longer "a long way to go" in this season, and it's not too soon to start talking about this sort of stuff for real. TFC know that they have a shot at regular-season history, and thus far they haven't given much of a reason to think that they'll come up short.
Of course, they'd trade any/all of the above for an MLS Cup triumph, which is the one title coaches and players most covet. As it stands it's probably the 2011 Galaxy of Donovan, Beckham and Keane, who won both the Shield and Cup, that's remembered as the best team ever to play in MLS precisely because they won both the Shield and Cup, and did so convincingly.
So that's TFC's ultimate goal. But it's worth appreciating how they're assaulting the record books along the way, and the way that would temporarily end everybody's favorite barstool argument.