Clean sheet, opportunistic finishing power Toronto FC to first road win in MLS play

Toronto FC picked up their first road win of the MLS season on Friday night with a 2-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union.

Jonathan Osorio provided the goals and Alex Bono the vital saves, as the side looks to build into the upcoming FIFA World Cup break.

“It's a good three points,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “To come on the road and get three points, it's important. We’ll take it.”

TFC took the lead in the 19th minute when Victor Vazquez threaded a perfect through-ball for Osorio, who placed his finish past Andre Blake in the Union goal. Come the 79th minute, with the hosts pressing, Osorio struck again, surging up the middle once more to capitalize on an alert passage of play from Sebastian Giovinco, stealing possession and picking out his teammate in the middle.

“Two good goals,” said Vanney. “Osorio was in the right place and finished his chances when we needed it. Everybody put in their shift; that’s what you have got to do on the road.”

“We had a few other chances we let go,” lamented Vanney. “But three points is three points and that’s what we need right now.”

Not content, with his third and fourth goals of the MLS campaign, Osorio joked about his first career two-goal outing: “I wanted a hat-trick bad, but it didn't come. It's a nice little milestone. Hopefully one game, the hat-trick comes.”

Just as importantly, Toronto were able to keep a cleansheet on the defensive side, their first in five matches, stretching back to the 3-0 win over Philadelphia at BMO Filed at the start of May.

“A clean sheet away from home is huge,” said Osorio. “We need to get back to being hard to play against and not conceding easily. This is a step in the right direction, but we can’t just relax now; we have to keep going.”

Having taken a healthy lead in Columbus last weekend, only to be forced to settle for a draw, for Vanney, Friday was “better.”

“I'm happy for the guys working through things,” continued Vanney. “It wasn't perfect – that's natural on the road, but we continue to work, find solutions, finish the chances that we needed to on the night. I'm happy for the guys to grind. That's what you've got to do in these moments: work hard, compete, and find the right answers.”

Keeping the opposition at bay, limiting their chances, has been a trademark of this side. One they have been looking to reinstate.

“Defense was our first priority today, make sure that we get out of here with a clean sheet,” explained Nick Hagglund, who made his first start since mid-March. “We have struggled to finish out games, so this is a step in the right direction.”

“We have to build a foundation that we are going to be hard to play against,” continued Hagglund. “We know the soccer, when we have time to play, we will be good. We know that. It is about executing defensively and tonight we had big plays from a lot of guys.”

Alex Bono in particular made two massive saves, first on Fafa Picault in the 13th minute, rushing off his line to smother a look, and then again in the 87th minute when David Accam forced a dangerous turnover only to be denied by the TFC goalkeeper.

“Alex came up with some big plays: one early and one late,” said Vanney. “Those are important moments in the game because goals change games. Alex did his job on the day; happy for him. He deserved a shutout with the saves he made.”

After a trying start to the season, Toronto took “a step in the right direction” on Friday night, according to Osorio.

“It’s what we wanted,” continued Osorio. “That was the objective coming in: to get three points. And more than [scoring], I’m just happy that we got the win and now hopefully we can keep this going.  We have an important game on Wednesday before a little break, so this is good to get going.”

TFC returns home to face D.C. United on Wednesday at BMO Field.

Urged Vanney: “We need to continue to progress. Three points is important right now. When you're grinding, whenever you can get points is good.”

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“They talk about momentum in MLS all the time,” said Hagglund. “It's our job to go back home, get three points and build that into the break.”