Toronto FC picked up their second-straight win at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon defeating NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup Champions, 2-1.

After an early penalty scare that was ruled out by video review, Jesús Jiménez scored the first goal in the 31st minute, capping off a wonderful bit of passing from TFC that carved open NYCFC. Kosi Thompson had time on the right to lift his head and find Alejandro Pozuelo in-field. He in turn picked out Jonathan Osorio moving forward, who then slipped Jiménez in off the shoulder of the defender for a quick right-footed finish across the keeper. 

An own-goal off Thiago Martins in the 43rd minute would double Toronto’s lead just before half-time. NYCFC would pull one back in the 92nd minute when Héber’s header denied Alex Bono and TFC their first clean-sheet of the season, but it was too little too late.

The goals won the game, but it was the defensive solidity against a dangerous and tricky opponent that earned the victory. The back-three of Carlos Salcedo, Shane O’Neill, and Lukas MacNaughton were excellent on the day.

“The way NYCFC moves, they do a lot in between the lines,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “It requires good communication, not only amongst those three, but then especially with Michael [Bradley] in front of them, so that they're not stuck following somebody in the wrong situation.”

“It took us about 15 minutes to make a couple little changes, but from that point on, in terms of handling different situations, all three did very well,” he continued. “The understanding and then the ability to read plays, step in at the right time, it’s a good group.”

That organization was the key to victory for Jiménez: “A very tough match against a very good opponent, but we were well-organized. In all the lines we stayed together and we kept the block. That helped us to achieve the victory today.”

The opening goal was the third of the season for the Spanish forward.

“That’s the idea that we want to implement in the game. This is something that we've been looking for,” said Jiménez of his goal through a translator. “It's a great pass. We're always looking to pass between the lines or get behind the defenders’ back. This is something that we continue to practice and we were able to show it today in the game.”

Jiménez is fast becoming a key off-season addition.

“He's just a smart, skillful attacker,” summarized Bradley. “He can move away from the defenders and receive balls and help us in terms of our build up-play. And then in the right moments, his timing and his reading of spaces going forward. We've really pushed him to continue to make sure that he's a real threat getting into the box.”

“And I think there's more to come from him,” he continued. “Physically, he can push himself and give us more, but he's an attacker that has just a really good set of skills. And he's easy to play with, so when we get football going and he can find the balance between dropping off defenders, receiving balls, making passes, and still being on the move and getting balls going into the box, that's the balance we need.”

Fresh off clinching a World Cup berth with Canada, Osorio was instrumental in that goal, collecting his second assist of the year to match the two goals he’s scored already.

“Oso has had a great start to the season,” agreed Bradley. “A really important player for us, in terms of leadership, in terms of just what he brings to our midfield. The first goal was really well done. It went from Kosi to Ale, Ale slipped a good ball to Oso and then the timing of the final pass to Jesús was very good and a great finish.”

The second goal was a mix of some deception, a perfect delivery, and the hard-charging run of MacNaughton to pressure the defender.

“There was, between Luca Petrasso and Ale, a little fake in terms of who is going to take it, which sometimes can freeze their line or their line drops a little bit,” explained Bradley. “The ball was really, really hit well – on the right pace, in the right spot – and then in those moments as you're running hard into those areas, it can be really difficult defensively, so it's a combination of all those things.”

A massive save from Alex Bono in the 68th minute to deny a wicked low drive from Keaton Parks looked to be enough to preserve the shutout, but it was not to be as a header from Héber in stoppage-time spoiled it.

“That was a key save,” said Bradley. “One of the things that I've spoken to Alex about, spoken to [goalkeeper coach] John [Conway] about, is his ability to set his feet and get down and get that hand out to make a low save.”

“That was an excellent example of getting down, making an important save at a key moment. I was really pleased with that save and then disappointed that we just couldn't see it out for a shutout,” he added. “But if we continue to develop it, I think we'll see some shutouts as we move forward.”

Fresh off the international break, kicking off the second proper month of the MLS season where the pace of matches begins to pick up steam, and coming against the defending champs, it was a big win for TFC.

“It was very important to get the win at home, especially because it was going to be a second-straight win in front of all the people,” replied Jiménez, asked what this win does for the side. “We always face every opponent with the same intensity, we always want to win. This one was very important because we can get more confidence going into the next games and heading into the next portion of the season.”

Observed Bradley: “Little by little, we're improving.”

“The vision we all have for this team is to be a team that's good with the ball, has moments of smart possession, still finding different ways to go forward, finding moments to press and then in other moments to make sure that we're very compact. There's a lot of details there,” he continued. “I still think at times, there are moments where the timing of a play between one player and the next, the confidence to give the ball the right time, the quality of some of the passes, those are things that are going to get better and better.”

“The month of March was not kind to us in terms of just ability to continue training in a good way between weather and training fields, in the bubble and out of the bubble, and all this kind of stuff,” Bradley added. “I really look forward to getting back into a consistent routine because we can take the things that we're trying to do and just be that much sharper in all areas, but I see the confidence of the team, I see good performances by key players, I see young guys improving, so those are all things that are very positive.”