In a Trillium Cup matchup set farther south than usual, Toronto FC got an early goal from Michael Bradley and a late goal from Jozy Altidore, beating Columbus SC 2-0 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday night for their first win of the 2021 season.

Toronto FC, continuing their 2021 in Florida, opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A ping-ponging ball that Columbus SC defenders couldn't quite clear from the box, despite multiple attempts, was captured by TFC and worked over to Bradley, who finished to give the hosts the early lead. Then, Yeferson Soteldo, on his full MLS debut, nearly got his first goal in his first start in the 26th minute, after a Nick DeLeon shot that hit the crossbar fell to him, but Saad Abdul-Salaam slid in to parry the return shot away.

Despite Luis Diaz's efforts, including a 31st-minute shot that forced TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono to go airborne on his save, the Crew couldn't equalize before the end of the half.

Soteldo nearly had an assist eight minutes into the second half, firing a corner kick that reached a waiting Omar Gonzalez. The U.S. national team veteran fired toward goal, but his fellow international, Darlington Nagbe, headed the shot off the line to bail out Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room and keep TFC from doubling.

Diaz had another chance to get Columbus on the board in the 58th minute, skipping a ball across the goalmouth and teammate Jonathan Mensah, only to continue his (and the Crew's) tough luck.

Head coaches Chris Armas and Caleb Porter went to seasoned goal-scoring subs as the chess match progressed, with Altidore coming on for Toronto and Bradley Wright-Phillips coming on for Columbus.

The move looks like it initially favored Armas' side, as Altidore rattled the crossbar with a 75th-minute shot that nearly provided an insurance goal. Then, in the 87th minute, Bradley got a free kick opportunity, Gonzalez headed the ball goalward, and Altidore opportunistically got on the end of it to head it in on the line — three Americans combining to seal the first win of 2021 for the Canadian side.

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Goals

  • 13' — TOR — Michael Bradley | WATCH
  • 87' — TOR — Jozy Altidore | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: Toronto needed this win to help get its young season back on track, and two new additions to the squad got to see action: Soteldo, who looked electric in moments, and back-from-Anderlecht Kemar Lawrence, reunited with Armas and looking solid in a sub turn. Columbus played with a slightly rotated lineup in its fifth match over the span of 14 days, with their now-finished CCL campaign mixed in with league matches. The Crew's looked better this season, and they'll look better again before much longer — though they do have a tough matchup coming against the Revs on Sunday.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The second goal tilted a match that could have ended in a draw decisively TFC’s way.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: It was the captain’s night: Bradley scored the early goal, delivered the free kick for the late insurance goal and played a smart, measured match all around.

Next Up

  • TOR: Saturday, May 15 at NYCFC | 1 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
  • CLB: Sunday, May 16 at New England Revolution | 6 pm ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

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