FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Toronto FC spent most of the past few months waiting for this moment. One thing after the other prevented Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco from starting alongside each other. The precious equalizer in Saturday's 1-1 draw at New England showed the potential benefits of that partnership.
The direct, precise move from back to front illustrated how TFC can benefit from playing quickly. Will Johnson collected in midfield and played over the top for Altidore to chase. Altidore collected and then squared for Giovinco’s late run to ensure their nascent partnership reaped immediate dividends.
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney highlighted the importance of proceeding quickly at certain points to provide Altidore and Giovinco with room to punish opposing teams.
“It’s important, especially for our team,” Vanney said. “Teams are sending numbers [back]. They’re very committed to getting back. You’re going to get numbers around Sebastian. You’re going to get numbers around Jozy. If we’re too slow playing forward in transition, then we’re going to have to break down 10 or 11 guys every single time. And that was happening in the first half.”
The series of adjustments – including the inclusion of Altidore from the start for the first time this season and the shift to a 4-4-2 formation to accommodate his arrival – required some time to take hold.
Once TFC found their footing after a half-hour or so, they were able to figure out how to make better use of Altidore and Giovinco up front and pave the way for the second-half equalizer. Their use of space on the goal offers encouragement about the potential profit going forward if TFC continues to vary their approach play at the proper times.
Vanney said he hopes to see his team continue to amend their approach accordingly to bring out the best from his front two as this road trip continues.
“We have to find that balance again,” Vanney said. “It’s a little bit different. We have more of a target player in Jozy than we’ve had in the last few games. We have to be more comfortable playing the ball forward earlier and letting him win the ball, secure the ball and move us up the field.”