Oh those BMO nights.

Toronto FC picked up their second win of the week on Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United. 

Jonathan Osorio, back in the starting XI, opened the scoring in the 8th minute, capping off an incisive attacking move that began with Jesús Jiménez forcing a turnover in Atlanta’s final third. The loose ball was controlled by Ayo Akinola who moved in-field from the right before playing to Luca Petrasso wide left. He in turn played to Jayden Nelson, who split a pair of defenders with a ball to Osorio driving into the area. Osorio cut onto his right-foot to blast past the keeper.

Toronto had plenty of chances to double their lead, but the visitors clawed back into the game in the 57th minute when Luis Araújo broke in down the right and poked a finish past Quentin Westberg. 

Undaunted, TFC went to their bench and redoubled their efforts. 

And it was one of the substitutes, Ralph Priso, that found the game-winner when Alejandro Pozuelo played a short corner in the 78th minute. Michael Bradley’s ball was cut out, but it fell nicely for Priso at the top of the box and his left-footer found the back of the net to seal a big three points.

“There's a growing level of confidence,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “We had stretches in the first half where the ball moved quicker from one player to the next. That part was quite good. And then I liked the fact that in the second half, when we just needed to find a way to come back after giving up the goal, it was a smart play.”

“We weren't having success on corners going direct, so Ale’s decision to play to Michael was a smart one,” he continued. “Ralph scores a great goal, really happy for him, and then in the end, it's just defend it. So yeah, good win.”

Osorio called it ‘massive.’

“Great performance,” he elaborated. “We didn't want to give up the lead in the first place, but we reacted really well to it. Guys that came in really gave us a boost. Overall a great team performance and a big, big three points.”

When Priso made his debut at the end of 2020, he slotted seamlessly into the starting XI. Recovery from an ankle injury last August has seen him start 2022 slowly with three starts and five appearances off the bench. 

Saturday’s game-winner was the second goal of the 19-year-old’s career, joining Deandre Kerr, Jayden Nelson, and Kosi Thompson as the fourth teenager to score for TFC this season.

“I just hit it. Just instinct,” recounted Priso. “I think it takes a little deflection, but I'll take it.”

“It's big,” he continued. “Helped the team get three points, at home, fairly big crowd, and a special night. It's big. And now I’ve scored on both ends, which is good.”

His previous goal came in front of the South End of BMO Field against the New York Red Bulls last July.

And that celebration: “Kosi was in my ear, telling me ‘knee slide, knee slide.’”

“The grass was looking good,” Priso laughed. “Maybe if it was early in the year, I wouldn't have done it. The grass was nice, wet, so I just did it – it was clean, it looks good.”

It was a big moment, both for the team and for Priso himself.

“It's important for confidence,” highlighted Bradley. “What's also important is that some of the little details – staying tuned into the game and how he moves better to stay connected in the game and sees things faster – that we see improvement. Those are the little details in the midfield.”

“When he's around the play, he gets in hard, he comes away with balls. Sometimes the game moves and Ralph doesn't move and stay connected with the game. So we work through that. When he has a little bit of time on the ball, he's a good passer, but when things are a little tighter, we keep trying to make sure that that's improving,” he continued. “But his attitude about seeing these things and working hard is there. And you see that if now he gets set up a certain way on his left foot, the strike for the goal is really good.”

Priso too expects more from himself: It's a good goal, but I think the performance can be better. I'll go back and watch and see what I can improve.”

Osorio was ‘very happy’ for his teammate.

“Amazing. At the club we all believe in Ralph a lot. He's had a rough go since his surgery, things not really going his way, but he's a tough kid,” he continued. “And that's what we want. We want players that are tough mentally and Ralph is showing that. He just keeps putting in the work, comes in early, puts in the work. And those things get rewarded in football eventually. His goal is a big goal for us today.”

On the heels of Wednesday’s 4-0 dismantling of CF Montreal to earn a spot in the 2022 Canadian Championship final, three points in MLS play as a busy home stretch continues has TFC feeling pretty good about themselves.

“It's good. It's really good,” said Priso of the mood in the locker room. “Back-to-back wins, a clean sheet, cup final coming, big player coming in. Happy, excited. A lot of guys from the Academy, we love playing for the first team, so it doesn't get much better than that.”

“Winning games and the feeling you get after winning makes you not want to lose that much more,” he added. “It helps us give even more and go into games with an even bigger desire to win. There's guys that are going to come in now and help us keep pushing forward.”

One can see the confidence growing.

“They feel good about the improvement,” observed Bradley. “We were disappointed with the result against Red Bull, but there was a feeling that we had stretches of playing good football that day, didn't take advantage of chances. We were able to carry that into the cup match against Montreal, created a bunch of chances.”

“Some of the details, the understanding, the ability to connect faster. Finding the right ways to get people closer and then still extend the field, have deep runs, those are ideas that good attacking teams can implement,” he continued. “I love to see when the midfield connects. When you've got ability to play faster through there then that makes it hard on the other team and that also opens up opportunities to get people on the move wide. And then when you go from inside-outside and [defenders] move, you can come back inside. Those are attacking ideas that are getting better. I see guys getting sharper.”

Toronto have won five of eight home matches this season and aside from the loss to the Red Bulls in the home opener they have outplayed opponents on their home turf. Hints that BMO is becoming a fortress once again.

“That's what we want,” said Osorio. “That's what we wanted coming into this year with the fans back consistently and all the protocols lifted. It feels normal.”

“We wanted to get back to how it was before and it feels that way. You can feel it in the stadium,” he continued. “We started to feel it during the Chicago game and you could feel the atmosphere in that game and after that win. And now with [Lorenzo] Insigne coming, we definitely want to make it a fortress.”

Insigne, who arrived in Toronto on Friday night, was in attendance on Saturday. 

After two years of largely doing without a home field advantage, BMO Field is rocking again.

Priso, who made his first team debut when the team was based in Connecticut, hadn’t really gotten that full experience before.

“Tonight was probably the most packed it’s been since I’ve been [with the team]. This was the first game where it felt like one of those 2017 nights when I was in the Academy growing up,” he noted. “I feel like I play my best games at BMO. I don't know why, I just play better when we play here. It's just something that you can't explain.”

The home stand continues on Wednesday with the visit of the Columbus Crew and then Seattle Sounders FC come to town on Saturday. Toronto will then have a week to prepare for the final game of the series on July 9 when the San Jose Earthquakes arrive.

It’s all coming together nicely.

“I don't want to say that we planned this and it's perfect timing, but it’s a good time to get going,” said Osorio. “We know how important the summer months are in this league, especially this stretch with the amount of home games that we have. And now with the summer window coming, the club is going to be making some moves, so yeah, it's exciting. It's exciting that everything's coming together as it should all at the right time.”