Supporters' Shield leaders Toronto FC dominate again, clinch playoff berth

TORONTO – There is no slowing down Toronto FC right now. The San Jose Earthquakes are the latest team to find that out.

Saturday night's 4-0 quieting of the Earthquakes at BMO Field was only the latest example of a trend over recent weeks in which TFC steamrolled the opposition. Winners of their last five and outscoring opponents 17-3 in the process, Toronto are in the midst of a 10-match unbeaten run. What's more is that they have not lost at home all season and now clinched the first berth of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

But the way TFC puts it, they have only just begun.  

“Things are coming together, but I can nitpick,” said head coach Greg Vanney post-match. “We can continue to get better, sharper, start to connect better, get to understand some of our rotation shifts, things we want to do with the ball.

“Over the course of the season we've gotten better. That's been our goal. Today was another opportunity to get out there. We'll assess it, see what we can learn out of this game to take another step forward next game. That's the process. If we stick to the process hopefully results will continue to happen.”

Victor Vazquez was central to the process on Saturday night, opening the scoring in the 25th minute and setting up Jozy Altidore's strike at the start of the second half.

The Spaniard has a goal or assist in each of the matches in TFC's recent winning run, and he has been involved in seven goals over that spell. 

“Victor is one of the smartest players I've ever watched play the game,” said Vanney. “Positioning, where he takes up spaces, his awareness of where pieces are at all times, and how much time he has when he gets on the ball. [And] he has ridiculous technical ability to pull off things.

“He is the prototype of the very best who have come out of Barcelona. His field awareness and pure understanding of the game is second to none; his knowledge of moving pieces around. The better our team plays with the ball, the better Victor is going to be. That is his game. As we get better, Victor benefits from that, and then everybody else benefits from Victor. When we have the ball he's something else. But he's also a very smart defensive player too. You can't say enough for how he plays the game.”

Altidore also stood out on the night vs. the Earthquakes, thumping in two goals in a 26-minute span before exiting the match to a rousing ovation.

“When the game looks like that, it sets up for him,” said Vanney. “He just needs to find his good spots and we can play into him.”

That both Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco were taken off early will raise some eyebrows, but Vanney said both were just tightening up.

Their exits still could not take the shine off Toronto's dominating performance. The club continues to roll along, with Saturday's rout serving as just another reminder of how good it can be.

“We bossed [this game] from start to finish,” said goalkeeper Alex Bono, who credited his teammates for the clean sheet. “We wanted to come out and make a statement. We did that.”

Added Michael Bradley: “It's the nature, the mentality, of our team to want to play, compete, win – dominantly when we can. It's not always going to be like that. You have to know how to win different ways. But on days when you have the opportunity to get the second and third goal, put a team away, that's so important."