Toronto FC continued their strong run of form with a 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers at BMO Field on Saturday night.

Jonathan Osorio put the side ahead in the 41st minute arriving into a pocket of space at the right-post to sweep in a Richie Laryea cut-back from the endline. Portland would pull level in the 73rd minute when Josecarlos Van Rankin capped off a sweeping attack, but a pair of newcomers to the club had no intention of letting the visitors leave with a point. 

Lorenzo Insigne reinstated Toronto’s lead in the 79th minute with a spectacular half-volley on the end of an inviting ball from Michael Bradley and Federico Bernardeschi sealed the result in the 85th minute with low left-footed rip from just inside the box that picked out the bottom right-corner.

It was TFC’s second straight win, extending their unbeaten run in MLS play to four matches.

“After 15 minutes we picked the tempo up, started to move the ball quickly, were able to move up the field as a team, so I really liked that part,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “Good first goal, half-time the talk is how to make sure that we don't drop back, how to get the second goal.”

“We do have two lapses in the second half, but before it goes to 1-1, we have a number of really good chances to get to 2-0. And then the response at 1-1 is very good,” he continued. “The third one finishes the game and the concentration at the end of the game was quite good.”

The opening goal was Osorio’s ninth goal of the season, his third in the last two games, and his fifth in the last six. 

“I don't know if it's the best football he’s played, but for sure he’s playing amazing now,” said Chris Mavinga. “We need Oso to play like this.”

It’s not so much that something has changed that has allowed Osorio to prosper.

“The role hasn't changed,” noted Bradley. “It's just that the more the team can play good football, the more you see how smart he is and what a good player is.”

Insigne’s goal was his second stunner in as many games. Bernardeschi’s was his third overall and second in the last two. Factor in three assists from the latter and one from the former and the duo have been wonderful additions.

“These guys bring some special qualities,” said Bradley. “And then you put that into the middle of some of the other things that we try to do as a team.”

“Lorenzo’s goal was a special goal,” he continued. “And then Fede finishes the game.” 

And as for that pass from the TFC captain: “It was a good pass by Michael.”

It isn’t even just what they have brought on the field that has made a difference.

“You can see Lorenzo, [Domenico] Criscito, Bernardeschi, they’re good guys,” stressed Mavinga. “In the past, they were captains too. You can see they came with the right spirit and so it’s good to play with them.”

“It’s not about only the quality, but the personality of the human beings,” he continued. “You can see that they’re real leaders and they push us to play our best.”

Good players thrive in good environments. 

In his return to BMO Field, Laryea picked up his second and third assists for the club – setting up both Osorio’s opener and Bernardeschi’s nightcap.

Bob Bradley is not surprised he has acclimated so quickly to familiar surroundings.

“Richie knows players here, Richie has the qualities so that as soon as he gets here guys like Lorenzo and Fede and the others that didn't know him can see what he's all about right away,” he explained. “Fede has talked about [how it’s] easy to play with Richie, ‘He gives me the ball at the right time, I know what he wants to do.’”

“When you have good players, it doesn't take long for other good players to size them up. They're good at that. And Richie's comfortable here,” continued the Toronto coach. “He's saying to me that he's still getting through ‘preseason,’ so there's a little bit there where physically there's a higher level, but the football part of what he brings makes a big difference in our team.”

His teammates are happy to have him back, not just for what he brings going forward.

“Playing with Richie is... [phew],” smiled Mavinga. “He’s very strong and his technical skills. You know when you pass him the ball, you’re confident he’s not going to lose an easy ball. [Same] with Mimmo on the other side. When I feel [I’m in] a tough this situation, you can give him the ball fast and he always has a good pass forward.”

“It’s easy to play with those full-backs because you can just concentrate on defense,” he continued. “We don't need to be a playmaker from the back because we have two full-backs who can do it.”

The burgeoning partnership between Mavinga and Lukas MacNaughton has seen TFC concede four goals in the last four games, all but one of them in that seven-goal seesaw at Nashville SC.

“You can see the difference,” levelled Mavinga. “It’s better from the first part of the season. We need to clean some little mistakes, but I think we’re in a good way.”

And BMO Field was rocking.

“The crowd was amazing,” said Mavinga. “I always say, I've been here since 2017, I really love to play at BMO. The atmosphere was amazing. I knew even when [Portland] scored, the fans were going to push us to score a second and a third. We’re really happy with the fans. We hope Wednesday they'll be there too because we need them.”

Saturday’s win kicked off the next busy stretch of the campaign that will see Toronto welcome the New England Revolution to BMO Field on Wednesday night before travelling to Florida to face Inter Miami CF on Saturday.

Another triplet of matches – away to Charlotte FC and then home to the LA Galaxy and CF Montreal – will see the club into September.

Nine games remain: 27 points on offer. 

There is a lot of work to be done, but if the noise emerging from the TFC locker room is any indication, the club is looking forward to the challenge.

“At the end of the year, you want to be at your best,” said Bradley. “It's a good group and you get a sense that guys feel good about what's going on, they feel like the football is getting better.”

“It's a good feeling when you come in and, not only to win, but to feel like little things are improving, to feel like the ball moves faster, to feel like we're defending as a unit better,” he highlighted. “They can see some of those things and that makes a big difference.”

Closed Mavinga: “I've been here for a long time, so I know this league a little bit. I know if you do good the last 10 games, you can make the playoffs and you come with really good confidence.”

“Since the Italians came, we didn't lose in 90-minute games. We just keep going,” he continued. “I'm really confident because I know we have the team to make it.”

“We know we have nine games left before the playoffs, it’s nine finals,” he added. “We’re really happy with the win tonight. Now we focus on Wednesday, we need to get the points at home.”