Toronto FC's professional 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire felt a lot like the victories MLS followers got used to watching over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. A big reason why was just who was on the field.
Jozy Altidore played an impressive 80 minutes in his first game since late April after having foot surgery. Defender Chris Mavinga went 66 minutes in his first action since he was sidelined with a hamstring ailment in late May.
And when Altidore did finally come off, it was none other than Victor Vazquez coming on for his first MLS action in a month due to a quad issue.
We not dead yet. Stick together. All for one!!!! #TFCLive— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) July 22, 2018
"It’s big," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney. "Because again, guys start to play in natural positions. Relationships that have existed for a couple years start to come out again."
Altidore's performance was as important as it was impressive after such a long layoff. While the forward may have seen his best chance deflected out for a corner late in the first half, the space he created for his teammates was obvious on both goals.
Osorio might even have fed Altidore for a deserved tap-in on the winner had he not been able to carve some extra space for himself.
"My timing wasn't great, but I only really trained two or three times," Altidore said. "That comes with time and game minutes. I don't think I was at my best, but it wasn't about that. It was about putting a good effort in on the road and finishing the chances when we could."
Toronto still have a mountain to climb, and probably need to earn between 25 and 30 points from their last 14 matches to have a realistic shot at a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
While eight of those 14 games are at home, 10 are against teams that entered Week 21 above the playoff line in their respective conference.
That said, they certainly have a better chance with a healthy roster than without one.
"I think we still have a ways to continue to go," Vanney said. "It’s the first time that really that group has been on the field together in months. It was a good game, but we have another level that we can continue to hit."