After an international break, Toronto FC got back to action at BMO Field on September 9, hosting the San Jose Earthquakes, putting in a commanding performance to win 4-0, extending the winning streak to five matches and the unbeaten run to double-digits.
Steven Beitashour made his first start since that devastating injury, against his former club no less, putting in an impressing outing, picking up two assists and nearly scoring his first goal of the season. The San Jose connection in Toronto is a strong one.
Victor Vazquez, the best of the Barcelona prototype, too was on his game, scoring the first and setting up the second, his heart-shaped hands on full display.
Ahead of a run of three matches in a week, TFC announced on September 12 that Corey Wray, a Day One intern, was promoted to assistant general manager.
On the road, Toronto headed into Los Angeles for a match that could have been seen as a passing of the torch. Long a difficult journey for TFC, they strolled into town on September 16, defeating the LA Galaxy 4-0 without the services of both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.
It was a match that brought back memories for three members of the TFC coaching staff – Greg Vanney, Robin Fraser, and Dan Calichman – who made history with the Galaxy back in the early days of MLS.
Tosaint Ricketts won the headlines with his brace, though Vazquez too was influential, involved in three of the four goals, including Drew Moor's headed opener, the defender reacting quickest to a sneaky-fast Vazquez free-kick that caromed off the bar.
The sixth-straight win matched Toronto's best run of the season, extending the unbeaten run to 11. Alex Bono collected his ninth clean-sheet, a new club record, while the side also set new marks for most road wins (seven) and most away points (26) in a season.
That would all come to an end in the most unexpected of fashions, falling 5-3 at home, the first and only loss of the regular season at BMO Field, against the Montreal Impact on September 20. A wake-up call of sorts, should anyone have begun to think that four-goal wins were now the norm.
Down three within 24 minutes, Toronto would pull one back before half-time, when Jonathan Osorio twisted up his good friend Samuel Piette and saw his effort towards goal redirected by Deion Boldor.
The Impact would add two more in short order after the restart, but TFC would not go down quietly, making it interesting as Ricketts added two more to his growing legend as the clock ticked. It was not to be on the day, but it was a performance that recalled the old saying: 'they never lost a game, just sometimes they ran out of time.'
Three days later that lesson would be doubled as TFC lost back-to-back games for the first time in 2017, falling 2-1 away to their bogey team, the New England Revolution.
With Clint Irwin back in goal, the late introduction of Lee Nguyen would prove too much, as he scored and assisted either side of a Nicolas Hasler strike courtesy a beautiful ball from Michael Bradley.
Back home, Toronto would close the month in style with a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls on September 30, a tighter match than the scoreline indicated, a portent of things to come.
No strangers to key matches at BMO Field versus RBNY, Justin Morrow was the star on the day, netting the first hat-trick of his career becoming the second TFC player to ever score one, Giovinco being the other, of course. That he and old friend Beitashour were both making their 200th MLS appearance only sweetened the occasion.
Morrow struck twice in the opening phase, only for New York to pull back level as Toronto would strike woodwork on two occasions. But Vazquez struck the clinching penalty kick and Morrow would complete his trick in stoppage-time to set the fans humming.
Shield winners, Toronto were undoubtedly the best team in the league, but as Altidore noted: “It's one thing to say it, [another] to show it... We showed it.”