D.C. United's six-game winning streak came to a close on September 1, 2007. In the nine seasons since then, entering 2017, there were only two regular season winning streaks of six or more games, by any MLS team, in one season:
- Sporting KC won seven games over 39 days to open the 2012 season
- New England won six games over 46 days in the middle of the 2015 season
Toronto FC just won their sixth straight game, holding on for dear life with a 3-2 win over visiting Minnesota United at BMO Field last Saturday. They did it despite making three injury- or illness-related subs. They did it, for the second time this week, by bringing difference-makers off the bench. They extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference, and have now lost but once in their first 12 games.
They entered the busiest part of their schedule, traveled cross-country to face last year's MLS Cup champs and then to Ohio to face one of the most dangerous attacks in the league and then back home to host a team that dropped a very good Sporting side last week, and beat them all. They shut out Houston on a Friday then beat Orlando City on the following Wednesday. They played weekend-Wednesday-weekend-Wednesday-weekend, and won them all.
Nobody's put together a streak like this in the modern history of MLS. SKC's took 39 days, New England's 46. Toronto took... 22 days. They're on only the third 6+ game winning streak of the past decade, and they've done it in a touch over three weeks.
To add further perspective: Sporting's streak, back in 2012, came to an end the first time they had a three-games-in-eight-days stretch. Same for New England in 2015. TFC just did it back-to-back.
This is why I was nodding earlier this week when Greg Vanney asserted that his team is the deepest in league history, and certainly the ability to bring guys like Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez and Raheem Edwards and Tosaint Ricketts off the bench at various times in the past eight days was telling.
I'd also argue that Minnesota's overly cautious fullback play made them a touch culpable (volume up for analysis):
Armchair Analyst: Minnesota United are good defensively when conservative, vulnerable when aggressive. No in between for them just yet pic.twitter.com/QqK1zKK1RF— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 13, 2017
Michael Bradley – who's played every minute of this streak – was a step slow due to fatigue, and the Loons could've found paydirt earlier had they been willing to push the pace and swarm him with numbers. Once they did so (Marc Burch and Jerome Thiesson played much higher in the second half), they regularly troubled the Reds. Vanney even said "that second half was too exciting for my liking."
Had MNUFC been a bit more adventurous from the opening whistle, this one might've been different. But they weren't, and it wasn't, and so Toronto FC have set their club record in the blink of an eye. It's a remarkable three-week stretch, and nobody's seen the like in a decade
Ok, a few notes:
• The official league record winning streak is 15 games, set by the Galaxy from late 1997 to May of 1998. The single-season record is 12, set by the 1996 Galaxy.
Those are all in the FARB, which I encourage you to peruse. But note that those two streaks, as well as the only other double-digit winning streaks in league history, came during the Shootout Era (1996-through-1999) when games couldn't end in a draw. So I give them each an asterisk, and no I won't change my mind about that.
• In the post-shootout era Sporting's seven-game streak is the longest single-season streak on the books. It's also part of a longer, nine-game streak since they won their final two games in 2011 – and that, too, is the record for the post-shootout era.
• The Red Bulls had a six-game winning streak ended in March – the last four of 2016 and the first two of 2017. They host Toronto this coming Friday in Harrison.