Eight games into the MLS season, Toronto FC is finding its stride.
The defending Eastern Conference champion plays best when it moves the ball fast, allowing its skillful attackers to find space in the opposition defence. And Toronto was in high gear in the first half of a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Friday.
With just one loss coming into the game, Toronto was hardly suffering. But some points had been left on the table.
That has changed.
Jozy Altidore scored twice in the first half Friday to help Toronto (3-1-4) post back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Coach Greg Vanney fielded the same starting 11 as last week’s 3-1 win over Chicago, another TFC first on the year.
Room for improvement
“I think we’re just scratching the surface,” said captain Michael Bradley. “And I think there’s a lot of room for us still to grow and improve and get sharper. And ultimately when we think about that, that makes it all pretty exciting.”
Consider that Toronto has lost just five of 29 games (15-5-9) since mid-July 2016 with one of those defeats coming in a two-game aggregate playoff win over Montreal.
Vanney liked what he saw Friday, save some turnovers but also agreed there is room for improvement. He’d rather his team finish off opponents with goals than have to protect a lead.
A midweek game against a hot Orlando team will be another good measuring stick, as will how Toronto negotiates the busy stretch of five games in 15 days that started Friday. That includes a visit to MLS Cup champion Seattle and Columbus as well as a home game against Minnesota.
Toronto’s depth has shone through this season, with Alex Bono stepping in for the injured Clint Irwin in goal, Nick Hagglund sliding over to fill Drew Moor’s role as defensive quarterback and Raheem Edwards filling in at wingback while Justin Morrow moves to centre back.
Despite the defensive shuffling, Vanney’s team has four shutouts in eight games.
Altidore, who has five…