TORONTO – Less than a week removed from the massive disappointment of missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Toronto FC's US national team duo helped to spur the club to three points on Sunday night against its dearest rivals.
TFC defeated the Montreal Impact, 1-0 at BMO Field, with Jozy Altidore netting the game's only goal in the 16th minute. Altidore pounced on a loose ball behind the backline on the play after Marky Delgado's pass, bound for Nicolas Hasler wide right, was redirected into the forward's path in the 18-yard box. All alone, Altidore then proceeded to beat Maxime Crepeau low to the far side of goal with a clinical right-footed effort.
While Delgado played the final ball, it was US captain Michael Bradley's pass that found the 22-year-old midfielder in such a dangerous position leading up to the chance.
“It has been one of, if not the, toughest periods of my life. Definitely the darkest three days I've had,” said Altidore after the game. “I didn't leave the house, I didn't do anything. … But then I remember I'm in a special place. Quickly I'm reminded – just going to get a coffee, seeing somebody in a TFC shirt, and them saying how much it means to them how well the team has done – how special of a club I'm at, a city, and the opportunity that I have.
“I was lucky to somewhat bounce back, go out there and try to represent the city well, keep these fans happy. I thought we did that getting the three points.”
The win saw Toronto FC tie the MLS record for most points in a single season, equalling the mark of 68 established by the LA Galaxy in 1998. Toronto can still surpass that total, as they play next weekend away vs. Atlanta United.
On a raucous night in which Toronto were able to see their fans hoist the club's first Supporters' Shield, it was that love which "absolutely" gave Altidore and Bradley what they needed after a trying week. Bradley even said midweek that he couldn't wait to get back on the pitch.
“Every time we play here, the support we get, the fans are terrific here. It gives you an extra jolt of energy coming off a very disappointing week," said Altidore. “It was good to come here and have a little bit of a pick-me-up.”
The goal was the 14th of the season for Altidore, who now has a new career-high in that category to go along with the one he reached in assists (six) in the club's last match against the New York Red Bulls. He previously had netted 13 times in 2015.
Speaking on both Altidore and Bradley turning around so quickly, Toronto head coach Greg Vanney said: “I greatly appreciate them being ready, saying, 'I want to go, I'm ready to go.' They gave us everything they had on the night.
“Jozy's commitment, he had some very good moments, some strong moments. Fatigue [sets in] at some point, you miss a couple touches here or there… it was team wide, we had a lot of guys doing that.”
“It was great to have him back out there with the group because he and Sebastian [Giovinco] could start to work through that relationship again and work off of each other,” added Vanney looking forward to next week and the playoffs beyond. “It's a great step in the right direction for Jozy and the team as we get everybody on the field together.”