Toronto FC get back on track in MLS play against Real Salt Lake

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Jozy Altidore
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Jozy Altidore /

Toronto FC finally got back on track at BMO Field with an impressive 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake, for their first win in MLS action.

Toronto FC needed a couple of weeks to get back into the flow of domestic play. Surprisingly, Greg Vanney took that portion of time to make some lineup changes as well. Most notably, the manager decided to start Clint Irwin instead of Alex Bono.

Also, instead of sticking five players in midfield, Vanney put Auro and Ashtone Morgan at the full-back positions, while the four of Jonathan Osorio, Nicolas Hasler, Marky Delgado and Michael Bradley performed a diamond in the middle of the park.

The changes all seemed to work and fed momentum to the attack, as Jozy Altidore’s struggles vanished with a brace in this one.

Give credit to Sebastian Giovinco as well. The Atomic Ant found a lot of space down the wing, which led to him sneaking Altidore through in the 12th minute to get an early high-quality chance.

Osorio continued his recent form of brilliance as he fed the American striker himself. Altidore won a handball call on Damir Kreilach. However, Giovinco would be the one to take the missed penalty chance.

Altidore again was all over the Real Salt Lake box as he won himself another penalty, this time on Justen Glad. The 28-year-old striker would be the one to take the shot, and he buried it into the bottom right to score TFC’s first MLS goal this season.

Morgan’s presence at the back wing proved to be invaluable. Giovinco found him down the wing, as Morgan’s one-touch pass to Altidore resulted in the second goal of the fixture right before half-time.

Irwin got his best moment when he was one-on-one with Joao Plata. Plata’s low strike found the palms of the veteran keeper, which was one of Irwin’s best stops in a long time.

Drew Moor hasn’t been his best in MLS so far. He turned the ball over late in the contest, which saw Corey Baird pass it into the far post past Irwin.

Ager Aketxe was finally brought off the bench as well. The former Athletic Bilbao man dinged a strike off the bar, which was rebounded home by Tosaint Ricketts for the winner.

Man of the Match

It was a little bit before we finally got this one typed up; Altidore has got his first Man of the Match performance in this season.

His all-around play, specifically in the box, really won the first half for the Reds. The American really needed those two goals to start feeling the touch again. Hopefully, this jump-starts his play domestically and in the Champions League, where he’s been a bit cold as well.

Key Stats

Toronto FC

  • 19 shots
  • 53 percent possession
  • 4 yellow cards
  • Key Player: Jozy Altidore back in the swing of things

Real Salt Lake

  • 8 shots
  • 4 shots on target
  • 47 percent possession
  • Key Player: Nick Rimando did his part in goal with eight stops

TFC Stats to Keep an Eye on (WhoScored)

  • Altidore was the clear-cut offensive powerhouse in this fixture. It shouldn’t be any shock that both him and Giovinco made up for five of TFC’s eight shots on target. The duo finished with the highest match ratings, with Altidore receiving a 8.04 and the Italian getting a 7.34.
  • Another shock is Osorio’s play on the defensive side of things. The Canadian made the most tackles of any player in the fixture including the defence, getting three tackles and two interceptions.
  • Despite Giovinco’s 71 percent pass accuracy, his through ball conversion rate cannot be ignored. The Atomic Ant had three, which all came in the first half.
  • Irwin earned a 6.51 match rating, which is higher than Bono’s total of 6.05 for the whole season.

Around MLS

  • New England 2-2 NYCFC
  • FC Dallas 1-1 Portland Timbers
  • New York Red Bulls 3-0 Minnesota United
  • LA Galaxy 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Colorado Rapids 2-2 Sporting KC

An updated MLS table can be found here.

What’s Next for the Reds?

TFC will now shift their focus back to the Champions League, as the two legs against Club America are next.

More from Toronto FC

It will be interesting to see how Vanney uses the lineup that won this fixture and transfers it to the CL. Does the manager put a diamond in the midfield? Do Aketxe and Auro feature in the starting lineup?

Maybe the most important question is who gets the nod between the pipes? Bono won’t have played a fixture in over three weeks if he starts in the first leg. Vanney’s intentions were to get going in MLS, but he might have dug himself a hole in the Champions League as far as the keeper scenario goes.

The next fixture doesn’t happen until Apr. 4, so Vanney does have some time to figure it out.

Stay tuned, and as always, get your TFC coverage right here at Tip of the Tower.

Next: TFC lock up Victor Vazquez with multi-year deal

What was your take on Toronto FC’s first league win of the season? Who impressed you most against Real Salt Lake? Share your thoughts in the comments below!