Coming off a huge road victory in Orlando, the Toronto FC stopped its four game losing skid with one more league match in Philadelphia before heading home. The team knows how important it is to continue to gain valuable results on the road and to gain momentum for the supporters back home. With injuries already plaguing the clubs defense, the last thing Toronto needed was another change to the starting eleven, which is exactly what happened. Late in the week it was announced that Joe Bendik had tweaked his foot in the match at Orlando the Sunday prior. It’s not expected to keep Joe out of the net for long but it did keep him out of the match in Philadelphia. Nervous?
Greg Vanney elected to start a consistent 4-4-2 line up which saw backup goalkeeper, Chris Konopka, make his first start in net for Toronto and Quillan Roberts on the bench. The makeshift backline also had Ashtone Morgan start in his 100th match for Toronto FC, the most appearances in the club’s history.
Goalkeeper: Chris Konopka
Defense: Ashtone Morgan, Damien Perquis, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow
Midfield: Jackson (Warren Creavalle 71’), Benoit Cheyrou,
Michael Bradley, Robbie Findley (Collen Warner 76’)
Forward: Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco (Eriq Zavaleta 89’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quillan Roberts, Daniel Lovitz, Jonathan Osorio, Luke Moore
Over the course of the entire match Toronto FC was the dominate team. They added pressure right off the bat. There were some incredible scoring opportunities, and often times frustratingly close ones. The score could have easily been 2-0 before the half hour mark with a little luck and confidence.
In the 34th minute, Sebastian Giovinco broke the deadlock with an unbelievable free kick from long range outside the box. It was the goal they needed and they rode that lead onto victory. It wasn’t the pretties of matches but Toronto’s defense and Chris Konopka held on wonderfully and while there were a couple scares there was never any real threat.
Who says Toronto FC’s defense isn’t up to par? For a total of five halves, Toronto has earned two clean sheets in a row. Over that same stretch Toronto has score five goals of their own. An impressive turn around since the disaster in Dallas. The huge win give Toronto nine points in those seven league road matches, given them a PPG average of 1.29. If there’s anything we learned from my article during the week, a PPG away from home over one is exactly what is needed for a successful season. In league play, Toronto will head home where they need to capitalize on their success to make sure these victories count in October. Let’s also not forget that Toronto earned only 4 wins and 17 points away from home in 2014.
If there can be any faults for the Toronto FC, it’s that they kept Philadelphia in the match far too long. The match should have been over before the first half whistle. Teams that do well know how to put away their opponents and capitalize on the opportunities handed to them. Thankfully Giovinco is in a league of his own and has the finishing touch of a true world class player. Toronto FC need to sort this out to ensure they don’t drop points or give away results they desperately need.
The second area of improvement is simply to keep possession of the ball. The Union had control of the ball for 65% of the match. They are terrible enough that they weren’t a threat with it, but this won’t serve well against stronger opposition.
Toronto FC have one more match to go before they travel home to face the Houston Dynamo in front of close to 30,000 at BMO Field who have been patiently waiting. On Wednesday Toronto has a Canadian Championship match against the Montreal Impact. Both are extremely important so do not overlook either of them. The grueling MLS road trip is over but the season is only just beginning.
Photo courtesy of stephenrwalli on Flickr.