CARSON, Calif – Toronto FC were without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop them from beating the LA Galaxy 4-0 in a match that wasn’t even as close as that lopsided score indicated.
Their dominating performance was in no small part due to Tosaint Ricketts.
Before Saturday night, Ricketts hadn’t started for TFC since May 26. He hadn’t scored in an MLS match since May 13, when he followed up a brace off the bench on May 10 at Columbus with a goal in Toronto’s home win against Minnesota.
He notched his second brace of the season on Saturday in LA, further making his case as a potential weapon for Toronto as the Reds attempt to break several MLS regular season records and head into the playoffs on a high. Ricketts made quite the impact in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, recording two goals and an assist in six appearances off the bench.
His performance against the Galaxy reasserts his case that he can still be that guy.
“He's a guy that's always chomping at the bit, always wanting to get out there” TFC head coach Greg Vanney said on Saturday. “Obviously he's got a tough task with the two guys that he has in front of him, but he's a guy who – especially when there's space on the field and space to get behind – he can do some damage. [Saturday] was a good opportunity for him and he showed very well."
For Ricketts, who only played 125 MLS minutes between his last start in May and Saturday, the opportunity to get a full 90 under his belt was almost as important as his goals. Not to take anything away from either strike, both of which were impressive.
He bagged his first in the 37th minute. He was marked stride for stride by LA center back Michael Ciani, but slid to reach Nicolas Hasler’s through ball in the right side of the box and pick out the left corner with his first touch. He hooked up with Victor Vazquez to give Toronto a 3-0 lead in the 76th, collecting the Spaniard’s pass near the top of the box and taking a touch before firing home a rocket before Ciani could make a sliding block.
“Whenever you can get some minutes it’s good,” Ricketts said after the match. “It hasn’t been easy this year, in terms of getting minutes here and with the national team. You just have to take your opportunities when they come.
“I try to do the same thing every time when I get on the field. Whether it’s for the start or whether it’s for five minutes. I try to give everything. Give it all. That what I’m here for, when these guys are out, I’m here to step up, and do whatever I can for my team.”
The excellent performances from Ricketts and Vazquez, who had a goal and an assist and created the chance on Drew Moor’s opener, only further cement TFC as the deepest team in the league heading into the postseason.
“It's good,” said Vanney. “We have a solid team. A lot of guys who can do some things. We move the ball well. We were able to create some spaces for each other and make use of those spaces. We keep going – if we miss a guy, then someone else needs to step, which is what we did today.”
He'll likely have to step in to the starting XI again on Wednesday with Altidore ruled out and Giovinco questionable, this time with plenty of confidence.