TORONTO – TFC are getting the band back together.
It has been some six weeks since Toronto FC have been able to field all three of their designated players at the same time. But on Saturday night, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco combined to lead the side to a 2-0 win over D.C. United in front of a raucous crowd at BMO Field.
“It's good to have them back out there. The quality shows,” said coach Greg Vanney post-match. “The first half [was] getting connected and getting used to each other; it's been a while since they've been on the field together. It takes a little while. You have to stay patient, stick with our objectives. Tonight we did that and eventually the game turned our way.”
D.C. put in a strong road performance, keeping Toronto off the scoresheet for the opening 60 minutes, but as the hour ticked over, the trio linked up to provide the breakthrough.
Bradley forced a turnover and found Giovinco drifting wide right, who in turn picked out Altidore, splitting the fractured D.C. backline for a sublime collect and finish in the 60th minute.
Altidore described his thought process as the play developed: “Put myself in a good spot, stay onside. And Seba is what he is. He's the best player in the league. Has been since he's been here. He'll pick you out if you stay onside.”
A a 2-1 win against Orlando City SC on May 3 marked the last time all three were available at the same time.
“We've done a great job this year of understanding that on different days, with guys missing, we still have to find way to win; we've done that,” he added. “But there's no doubt to get a version of our best group on the field as much as possible is important.”
Making his 100th appearance in all competitions for the club, Bradley and his intangibles earned special mention.
“Capacity to work; leading by example; communication; problem solving,” said Vanney of his captain. “He becomes an incredible force for us in that position. He doesn't just do his job, he helps move other pieces around and keep the team linked together.”
But it was the ever-dangerous interplay of the two strikers that stole the show, menacing D.C. at every twist and turn.
“One of our goals this year was to get the two of them linking up more often than previous years,” explained Vanney of Altidore and Giovinco. “This season, when we've had them, they've been a little closer together, more aware of each other. Part of that is the system: in the [4-4-2] diamond, the attacking midfield would split the two and they would end up far apart. [That's] one of the reasons we went away from that. Now they can utilize one another.
“The secondary part is in transition,” he added. “They both make very good runs ahead of the ball, both very capable, technically, to find each other. They trust each other.”