Missing team captain Michael Bradley, Toronto FC walked into RFK Stadium, squared off against the kings of the Eastern Conference and walked away with the full three points in a statement win orchestrated by Sebastian Giovinco.
Two goals by the Atomic Ant gave TFC the 2-1 win over D.C. United, a result that moves the team up to third in the Eastern Conference. This win also puts to an end a 20-game unbeaten streak at RFK stadium for D.C. United, something TFC head coach Greg Vanney said he wanted his team to break.
“That was one of our battle cries, if you will,” Vanney told MLSsoccer.com over the phone after the match. “Going into the game, we wanted to be the team that ended that streak. It shows the progress that we’re making as a group.
“We are real contenders in the Eastern Conference,” he added.
And, despite going into the final 15 minutes of the game level at one goal apiece, Vanney decided to make two offensive substitutions, bringing on Jozy Altidore -- back from an injury layoff -- and Jay Chapman in an effort to win the match. Vanney explained that his decision was prompted because his team was “able to get out of the initial pressure pretty well," and bringing Altidore on would be a clear sign for his team that they should go for the win.
“In the end, it paid off,” Vanney said, of his decision. “It helps when you get Sebastian [Giovinco] on the ball in good places where he can face the goal.”
Giovinco was, once again, inspired. Two beautiful goals saw the Italian climb the team leader boards with seven goals.
It begs the question: should opposition defenders be afraid of defending when Giovinco is on the ball?
"It’s hard to have a plan to defend him,” Vanney said. “He’s very difficult to defend because of his quickness and his ability to unbalance you defensively. There are a variety of options on how to defend him, but that’s for other teams to figure out.”
Vanney now looks to a bye week where he can continue developing the style and chemistry of his team. He’ll perhaps do so clad in the lucky pink shirt that has now seen his side win five of its last seven games.
"Until otherwise noted, I’ll probably be coming out in a very similar shade of shirt,” Vanney said.
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.