The Eastern Conference has four teams that seem to have separated themselves from the pack in 2020, but MLSsoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle believes there’s a clear favorite.
Taking stock of the Reds’ 3-1 win over league-leading Columbus Crew SC last weekend, he reaches a simple conclusion: They're legit. It came after midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo strengthened his Landon MLS MVP case with a goal and assist, and right back Richie Laryea earned MLS Player of the Week honors with the same stat line.
“When Toronto played like they played on Sunday night, they’re hands down the best team in the Eastern Conference,” Doyle said on the latest episode of Extratime.
Doyle: Toronto are beasts of the East
The match, held at the University of Connecticut’s football stadium due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, saw the 2019 MLS Cup champions roar back after Chris Mavinga committed an own goal in the 40th minute. Toronto then scored three goals after halftime, showing Doyle that they have different levels they can reach.
“In the second half of that game, Toronto was like, ‘Oh, let’s kick this into fourth gear and see what happens,’” Doyle said. “And then there was only one team on the field. Toronto can do that, Seattle can do that, LAFC I thought last year could do that. I’m not convinced that Philly or Columbus can do that.”
The Crew still hold first place in the Supporters’ Shield race, but Toronto and Philadelphia only trail them by two points with 28 points. Orlando City SC, a finalist at this summer’s MLS is Back Tournament, also site right behind them on 26 points, as head coach Oscar Pareja continues to remold the Lions.
The conversation could all change Sunday, though, when Toronto play the Union in East Hartford (7:30 pm ET | TSN 4/5, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US). Perhaps head coach Greg Vanney’s team will reach another gear then, too.