TORONTO – With their season on the line, Toronto FC needed somebody to step up to ensure their aim to defend their MLS Cup title from last season remains alive.
And though the opening 40 minutes or so of their match against the LA Galaxy at BMO Field on Saturday night, it seemed as though there were candidates aplenty.
Victor Vazquez opened the scoring after just five minutes, Jozy Altidore added a second in the 16th minute, and come the 36th Sebastian Giovinco got in on the fun, marking the first time the attacking trio had ever scored in the same league match, and giving TFC a 3-0 head start.
But then Zlatan Ibrahimovic did his thing; from there the woe compounded. Before the hour mark, LA were back level with the match tied at 3-3.
Cue Jonathan Osorio, who netted his 10th goal of the MLS season, to reinstate the lead and play hometown hero once again. The relief was palpable as Jay Chapman, another Homegrown product, added a fifth to seal it and celebrated emphatically at the corner flag with the 5-3 victory complete.
“Nothing is shocking this season,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney of being up by three only to be pulled back – it has happened before to TFC this season against Columbus Crew SC and they did something similar to D.C. United as well in a match that ended 4-4.
“I'm happy we got the win; the goal was to get three points and stay in the mix,” continued Vanney. “We got it. Wasn't exactly how we drew it up. But I like the fact that we've talked about being resilient and that things are going to happen over the course of this run and we have to be able to bounce back when things don't go the way we want them to.”
“We were able to do that tonight,” added Vanney. “So I'll take that.”
That ability to roll with the punches has served Toronto well in the past and was stark in its absence at times this season.
“Not perfect by any means, but at this point, we're not looking for perfect, we're looking for three points,” said captain Michael Bradley. “We said two weeks ago: to give ourselves a chance we'd need to run the table. We talked beforehand tonight about this idea that it had to be a game with knockout-type mentality. Everything was on the line and there was only one result that was going to work for us.”
“We gave up some goals that we don't want to give up, but credit to the guys, they really had the guts and the grit to come back and find a couple more,” added Bono. “We are happy with the win – they're all not going to be pretty -- so, we will take these three points and go into Wednesday.”
Osorio called the match “a must win.”
“We have been with each other long enough,” highlighted Osorio. “We believe in each other. We have grown to be a team with a lot of character; a lot of resilience. That showed tonight, not many teams can come back from losing that lead, it's difficult, but we held in there.”
In the end, it was a team effort.
“We made a pact that these last games we're going to give it our all; go at every single team that we come up against,” explained Chapman. “Luckily tonight, we were able to have a good offensive performance and get the three points.”
And they celebrated it in a manner that has not been seen enough at BMO Field.
“As I said to the guys,” began Vanney. “There were a lot of times this year where we didn't celebrate wins the way we should because all wins are tough to come by. This one, we have to celebrate, use what we need out of it, and build momentum for the next one.”