Toronto FC can tie the MLS record for the longest unbeaten regular-season run at 19 matches with a win or a draw on Tuesday night against the Montreal Impact (8 pm ET | TSN, TVA Sports, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US).
Yet in some senses, it wouldn't put them much closer to their goals.
History is nice and all. And if the Reds do make to or even past 19 unbeaten, the unusual circumstances of 2020 guarantee this run will be remembered.
But in the end, explains midfielder Jonathan Osorio, what fuels such steady excellence is a continuous pursuit of silverware.
"Our motivation to win trophies and to be the best all the time — I think that’s the driving factor that keeps us all going and keeps us all focused, no matter what obstacle may come in the way," Osorio said on a conference call on Monday.
Becoming the third team to reach 19 unbeaten by joining 2004-05 Columbus Crew SC and 2010 FC Dallas offers no guarantee of major honors. Neither 2005 Columbus nor 2010 Dallas won one (though Columbus did win the Supporters' Shield in 2004.)
And 2019, the year Toronto's streak started, was in many ways one of disappointing near misses, with the Reds dropping the Canadian Championship to Montreal on penalties prior and losing the MLS Cup 3-1 at the Seattle Sounders despite being the better side before halftime.
A win against Montreal Tuesday would all but clinch the Reds' return to the CanChamp final, and with the guarantee of facing the Canada Premier League winner rather than an MLS squad. But in a shortened 23-game schedule, the Shield race may be the most wide open in years. The same goes for an expanded 18-team postseason.
Given all that, perhaps it is best to focus on the here and now. As Toronto are already doing.
"I think from the very start of everything starting to happen and us pausing and everything (due to COVID-19), I think we made it very clear that we were all going to still stay focused and focus on the task at hand, and do whatever we can to stay ready at all times," Osorio said. "We did a great job going to Orlando [for the MLS is Back Tournament], we’ve done a great job coming back. ... I think for the team, the leadership and the coaching staff has been great at keeping us all motivated and focused, and all of that has led us to be in a good spot right now."