Toronto FC continued their good run of form on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire at BMO Field.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play in the 16th minute through Robert Beric, but a Mark Delgado goal before half-time and a pair of second half strikes – a powerful header from Omar Gonzalez off a corner kick and a wicked finish from Yeferson Soteldo after Jonathan Osorio slipped him through – saw TFC earn the victory.
It was a second-straight win in MLS play following Wednesday’s defeat of FC Cincinnati and stretches the unbeaten run to four matches in the league and five in all competitions.
“It’s similar to the last game we played, against Cincinnati,” observed Javier Perez post-match. “Unfortunately we concede the goal – they got one shot and they scored, but the team now is in a good place, mentally is in a good place. Offensively with the ball, we are good, finding the right areas, feeling comfortable moving the ball, ultimately finding the opportunities to score.”
“We scored three and it could have been even more,” he added. “The important part is that we are clicking, we are playing as a team, and the collective effort takes us to the three points and winning games.”
Said Osorio: “It was a solid match for us, a good performance.”
“We go down a goal again and for the second time in a row the response was really good. We earn a penalty right after, we miss it, but even the response after that was really good. That was important,” he continued. “And so we find the equalizer before the half. We executed the plan very well. We're on a roll and we want to keep it going.”
Jacob Shaffelburg was once more at the heart of a lot of the good moments – he picked up yet another assist, his third in the last two matches. And after seeing his penalty saved, Soteldo provided the service for Gonzalez’s game-winner and then capped off the night with a goal of his own.
In the last four league matches Soteldo has four assists, bringing his season tally to ten – a three-way tie for fifth-most in MLS.
“I’m really happy with the result that we got today,” said the Venezuelan through a translator. “I thank God we have been getting the wins in the last couple of games and that's due to the sacrifice and effort that we do in every single match, the work that we do every day.”
“This is very positive. We haven’t had the season that we wanted, but we always stuck together and kept supporting each other,” he continued. “I'm really happy that we keep getting these results and hopefully they keep coming.”
Mark Delgado picked up his second goal in as many games – his three on the season matches a career-high achieved twice before.
“Mark has done a great job,” said Perez. “Our midfield is getting stronger, our midfield controls the tempo of the game and now with him and Osorio getting into attacking positions, we have more opportunities to score.”
“He's a smart player and he's taking advantage of the situation,” he added. “He's finding himself in positions where he can score and tonight it was another opportunity for him to come big and score that goal that brought us back into the game.”
Earlier in the season, conceding first was a grim omen – the Cincinnati win was the first time Toronto had recovered from such a deficit. To do it twice in a row is a herald of the change occurring.
“It's not only the mentality,” replied Perez, asked about this turn of fate. “When you look at the numbers we are more dangerous. We have more control of the game. We have more possession. We have more opportunities.”
“It's just a question of remaining calm when things are not going your way because you know that if you are the better side, at the end you are going to have the chances,” he levelled. “That has been the story in the past two games.”
Added Osorio: “It's a combination of a lot of things. Guys in the locker room care, really care, and want to keep fighting, so we'll keep doing that.”
TFC enter the international break in good spirits.
While some players head off on international duty, the rest of the group will get some well-earned rest after a grueling stretch. The club returns to MLS play on October 16 when Atlanta United come to BMO Field.
That match kicks off another run of seven matches in three weeks, culminating in the Canadian Championship semifinal against Pacific FC on November 3 and the final game of the MLS season on November 7 against D.C. United.
There is always something to play for.
“We have to grow, one game at a time, and keep playing the way we are doing for the past now five, six games,” urged Perez. “We need to keep imposing our tempo, our style of game, style of play.”
“And if we can win the games with more authority and score goals, keep a little bit more the control of the game, it's what we are looking for,” he summarized. “Win the games with more authority.”
And, at the end of a long and difficult season, have some fun doing it.
“In this line of work sometimes when things aren't going good and you're not winning, you easily forget the blessing that we have,” reminded Osorio. “We're all here doing what we love and we get to do it every day. There's not many people in this world that get to say that.”
“Even more so in the middle of a pandemic when so much has happened to people and their businesses and things like that. When things were bad, we always have to find a way to keep the spirit up and find a way to be grateful, no matter what,” he continued. “We're in a business where winning solves everything, that's just the way it is and that's fine, nowadays we're winning, so it's fun, but we try to keep it fun every day.”
“We can't let the setbacks bring us down and bring us down in our lives,” Osorio said.” We have to always remember we are privileged to be able to do what we do and we have to come to work and not take that for granted and use it to get better and have fun and enjoy it, even in the hard times.”
“But yeah,” he added. “Right now it is fun.”