Toronto FC

Toronto FC notch “important” first win at BMO Field:  “All the hard work is paying off”

Toronto FC won its first match of the season on Saturday night, defeating Inter Miami CF 2-0 at BMO Field.

Jonathan Osorio opened the scoring in the 48th minute, directing a driven Richie Laryea ball in off the post and Mark-Anthony Kaye added a second in the 69th minute rising up to get his head on the end of a Federico Bernardeschi free-kick.

First win, first clean-sheet, following a pair of 1-1 draws, TFC are now unbeaten in three.

“Solid,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “We had a good week of training, the focus of the team was very good tonight.”

“I mentioned yesterday just keeping everybody a little more tuned in on every moment, by and large I thought that was better,” he continued. “We made a few reminders at half-time, in terms of just connecting passes faster, especially on a field that is slick, playing less touches, getting it to the next guy, and there were some good moments like that. Good win.”

An opening day victory denied late in D.C., Toronto built through matches in Atlanta and against Columbus in the home opener.

“I would rather have won all our games so far, but we knew how important this one was, especially before a couple of us leave for national team duty,” said Kaye. “To get a win at home, to build on the performance last game, it was important to get three points. Really important.”

Said Sean Johnson, who collected his first shutout with Toronto, back inside the warmth of the locker room: “It feels good, a lot a lot warmer here now, it's a good feeling.”

“We've been chasing the three points for a while now. Everybody's been committed and working extremely hard,” he continued. “All the hard work is paying off and we're looking to use this as a foundation moving forward and build some momentum.”

For Osorio, his first goal of the campaign means he has now scored in each of his eleven seasons with TFC.

“It feels great,” he smiled. “What matters is the three points, honestly.”

“With the three games to begin the season, we were a little bit disappointed, having leads in all those and losing it,” Osorio explained. “Today we made it a point that we had to be aggressive, we had to be on the front foot and manage the game well, and most importantly get the three points.”

His goal was a true team goal: Brandon Servania collected the ball in the middle of the field and played forward to Osorio, who touched it into the path of Kaye. Kaye quickly found Bernardeschi wide right and he feind in-field before feeding Laryea on the overlap to send in an inviting ball for Osorio to steer home.

“I liked the way we stepped up on the play initially,” observed Bradley. “Brandon was the first one to pick up the loose ball, but then it was some quick passes and Mark made a good pass to the back-post.”

“The timing of Fede and Richie on the overlap and Oso, as we know, has got a great way of getting into good positions, his timing to run into the box,” he added. “Really good ball across and a very good team goal.”

Said Osorio: “A lot of my goals come this way.”

“We had a few chances in the first half to get this kind of play going; the final ball didn't come off towards Richie, but that one, you see when it comes off and the timing is good we can be really dangerous,” he continued. “We have the best right-back in the league, so when he overlaps like that it's dangerous.”

“It just takes runners being aggressive in the box and I feel like that's one of my strengths,” Osorio added. “It was a really good overall play by the team and that's something that we can look to build on.”

Miami had some passages of play as they looked to respond, but a foul on Laryea was Bernardeschi’s cue to deliver a set-piece into the box and Kaye, with a spinning flourish, got the contact to loop a header into the goal in front of the South End faithful in the 69th minute.

It was his second goal of the season, but the first at BMO Field.

“It's a good feeling,” Kaye smiled. “My family's here, my wife's here, friends that grew up with me, so for them to see me score in my hometown, my hometown stadium, is amazing.”

“And in front of the fans too,” he continued. “You want to give them something to talk about, to cheer about, to be positive about, so I’m glad I could do that.”

That second goal helped secure the victory.

“Huge,” said Kaye of getting a second. “One goal leads aren't usually great.”

“For us to go up two goals – we hadn't done that this year yet – to show that we can score goals and then see a game out,” he continued. “They had a couple half chances at the end that we need to look back on and really deal with – if we make better decisions farther up the field, that doesn't happen – but the guys defended really well.”

“Two goals just gives you that cushion, that comfortability to play,” Kaye highlighted. “Hopefully, the next two-goal lead can lead to three.”

The win was a result that had been coming. The opener in D.C., the draw in Atlanta, the draw against Columbus. Those lessons led to this performance.

“There were certain things that we needed to clean up: being quick to react to things, being alert for every play,” said Kaye. “What Bob told us at the beginning of the game was ‘how many plays can we all be focused for 90 minutes?’”

“You really saw that from the guys tonight and that allows everything else to flourish,” he continued. “I'm glad that we were able to take what wasn't an easy discussion at the beginning of this week and put it into this performance.”

Even the frigid weather couldn’t put a damper on the occasion.

“You feel it, I'm not going to lie, you feel it, but as professionals you deal with it,” said a still red-cheeked Osorio. “I’ve played in colder temperatures, but today was a cold one.”

“After the home opener, I'm thinking, a week later, maybe a little bit better weather, but no, it was worse,” he quipped. “But that's Toronto. And to be honest, I love it, either way.”

Johnson, a native of Georgia, acclimated by his time in Chicago and New York City, kept himself active to stave off the bite.

“I actually did log quite a few miles jogging back and forth, just staying warm, but it was a good night,” he smiled. “The energy was there from the fans, that keeps you going. BMO was rocking tonight. Happy about the result and the cold weather was just a part of it.”

A big win, the first of the season.

“It was important,” said Bradley. “The beginnings of seasons are strange, between weather, fields. It is what it is, but there's challenges early in the year.”

“The players needed to feel a good win, they needed to feel a team effort where everybody comes in at the end of the game and knows that all the guys have contributed,” he continued. “That includes guys that don't play because if you're going to have good training in a week, you've got to have everybody coming in every day with the right mentality.”

Said Osorio: “It's huge. Huge for us; huge for the fans, especially the ones coming and braving this cold and supporting us.”

“It's important that we deliver a performance like this for them. They deserve it,” he closed. “For the energy that they gave us during this game, for coming in difficult temperatures. Important for the team, for the guys in the locker room, as well as for our relationship with the supporters.”