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It started with the rain.  Then the goals poured in.

Toronto FC put on a show in front of 17,711 soaking wet supporters in a 3-1 win at BMO Field.

The game was delayed 16 minutes due to lightning and torrential rain shortly before scheduled kick-off.  Those braving the wet conditions were rewarded for their loyalty.  Toronto FC put forth a dynamic attacking performance.  The combination of entertaining play while picking up results is a welcome addition among the other renovations at the stadium.  Back-to-back games Toronto FC came out with a convincing first half performance.  Two unexpected goal-scorers.  Two quality goals.  The first in build-up; the second in finish.

Damien Perquis was awarded the Man of the Match.  The central defender played well on the day, but was overshadowed by the performances of two others.  The referee Fotis Bazakos got critical decisions right.  For those scoring at home, that’s back-to-back games the referee has given Toronto FC the benefit of the doubt.  The unquestionable star of the game was again Sebastian Giovinco.  The Italian international continues to be the driving force for a team that is improving every time out.  Two assists, two crossbars and three points for his team.  His contributions massive in giving Toronto the extra quality required to win games as such.

The final score read 3-1.  It really could have been five or six.  The opening tally was an outstanding team goal in the 22nd minute.  Wonderful inside-outside play found Jonathan Osorio in a deep-lying midfield position.  A slick ball to Giovinco played him into space.  Give Giovinco a yard and he’ll make you pay.  Seba found Justin Morrow on the far post, who clinically headed home into the corner for his first goal in a Toronto FC uniform.  Fitting for Morrow the goal came against his former team.  And a really good header at that.

Toronto FC gave the lead away within 90 seconds from the penalty spot.  Chris Wondolowski scored his 101st goal in Major League Soccer, his seventh in his last five games against Toronto FC, after Ashtone Morgan handled the ball in the box.  It was a good penalty given by the referee.  

Bazakos played a role in Toronto FC’s go-ahead goal as well.  Sanna Nyassi lost control of the ball just outside the area and took a flop under a fair challenge by Giovinco.  There was no contact made and Bazakos was in good position to see the dive.  No foul and the ball landed on the foot of Warren Creavalle, gifting possession at the top of the box.  A thunderous, low, well-hit strike found the back of the net at the near-post.  2-1 Toronto and very much in control.

Better San Jose possession as in the second half didn’t amount to much.  The Earthquakes were left exposed on multiple occasions, only really playing with two deep lying players.  The clincher came in the 71st minute.  The tireless running of Michael Bradley ended in a picture perfect ball over the top finding Giovinco on the run.  Down the right-side, Giovinco played a low, teasing ball into the six-yard box, met by the foot of Luke Moore putting it past goalkeeper David Bingham.  Three points in the bag.  The assist, Giovinco’s sixth on the season, remarkably tied him for the club single season record for assists, joining Dwayne De Rosario (’09), Amado Guevara (’09), and Nick LaBrocca (’10) atop the list.  Giovinco has only played 11 games, or one-third of the season.  

A third assist for Giovinco should have come in the 81st.  Giovinco, back operating down the left found Osorio with a delicate through-ball but the Canadian agonizingly shot past the far post.  Incredible movement, ideal in design, but the finish left wasting.  Jay Chapman (Brampton, ON) made his MLS debut in the 84th minute.  Three Canadians seeing action in the win bodes well for the fabric of the club.  

Another crossbar and multiple late chances all for naught kept the scoreline 3-1.  Another solid performance by Toronto FC as the team grows in confidence, solidifies in structure and continues the climb in the Eastern Conference.  

Here are my Five Thoughts on Toronto FC’s 3-1 win:

Everyone Loves Seba: I am going to keep writing this until it’s finally widely acknowledged: there is currently no better player in MLS than Sebastian Giovinco.  His lateral movement, creativity, ball control and overall football acumen is second to none.  Credit his teammates; as the games go by they are regularly getting Giovinco more involved.  He has become the target; the way he’s supposed to be used with the ball at his feet.  Ashtone Morgan is the biggest beneficiary.  Morgan was far too excitable in the attacking third earlier in his career.  He has wised up with the addition of Giovinco.  Instead of merely whipping balls in from down the wing, Morgan’s head is always up, looking for the feet of Giovinco and delivering.  It’s simple stuff, really, but the simple stuff that wasn’t being done before.  Same goes for Osorio.  It was the third straight start for Osorio, and playing down the left has put in him the Seba-zone.  Osorio’s biggest strength is in distribution.  He’s developed some nice chemistry with Seba with the intelligence of both making it difficult for defenders to contain.  Giovinco is the facilitator.  Toronto fans are witnessing something special here.  A standing ovation by the crowd in injury-time for the player coming to take a throw-in was appropriate and well-received.  These supporters understand what they have: the best they’ve ever had.  

Defending Wide Positions: This continues to be Toronto’s Achilles heel.  The squad isn’t blessed with exceptional talent down the wings.  The team instead plays compact and narrow, playing to their strengths.  In doing so, dealing with crosses and defending the wings continues to plague.  Wondolowski’s penalty came directly from a poorly defended cross; slow closing down the crosser and too much space left between defender and player.  Similar poorly defended balls from wide positions has cost Toronto multiple goals over the season.  It happened against Columbus, Real Salt Lake, Montreal, and New England to name just a few.  It’s something that needs be rectified.  The communication is clearly improved between wing-back and outside midfielder.  The reaction time need be much quicker.  This remains a work in progress.

Outstanding Oso: It’s already been mentioned how Osorio’s game has benefited by the presence of Giovinco.  But the player deserves credit as well.  The Canadian International struggled last season in his sophomore year.  He was playing out of position as an outside midfielder, and the coaching change seemed to complicate matters.  Osorio’s start to the season left much to be desired as well, as head coach Greg Vanney experimented with formations.  Now that a defined role has been given in a diamond midfield, Osorio has gone to work.  He will never be a player with blistering speed.  His quality on the ball, ability to maintain possession and superior read of the game is what makes him an asset.  Osorio has taken his early season move to the bench as a professional and has come back better for it. His stock is on the rise.

Zavs over Haggs: Back-to-back starts for Eric Zavaleta at centre-half, partnered with Perquis, preferred over Nick Hagglund.  The converted defender has done well in the last two-games, quietly going about doing his job.  Overall, his positioning has been good, not trying to do too much and allowing Perquis to lead the line.  There seems to be some chemistry here.  Zavaleta’s one mistake came in the 31st minute.  San Jose broke down Toronto’s left-side and Zavaleta was indecisive in support, missing a through-ball and not covering the man, leading to an Adam Jahn scoring chance.  Zavaleta essentially broke two rules at once on the play.  If he cleans up moments as such, he could very well provide the stability the back line needs.  

Warren for Warner:  Vanney turned to Creavalle in place of Collen Warner (hamstring) out through injury.  There is no question Creavalle is a much better fit in the midfield than right-back.  His athleticism and comfort level on the ball is an asset playing a more defensive role in the middle of the park.  His versatility makes him useful, adequately providing cover as long as Warner is out; ideal as a reliable squad player on a good MLS team.  Creavalle ran out of legs and was taken off in the 66th minute.  Job well done.

Toronto FC goes back on the road next Saturday (7pm EST) taking on Eastern Conference rival DC United. 

@WheelerTSN

gareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca


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Source : http://www.tsn.ca/five-thoughts-on-tfc-s-win-over-san-jose-1.295833

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