With key players making returns in the coming weeks and the team in the midst of a 4 match winning steak, TFC looks set to contend for the MLS Cup.
On July 16th Toronto FC (TFC) lost 2-1 to a 9-man SJ Earthquakes squad after 2 Earthquakes were issued red cards (Godoy 42′ and Quintero 52′). Even worse, San Jose’s Simon Dawkings scored the winning goal in the 71′ when TFC had a 2 man advantage.
That’s their only loss in their last 8 games.
Since then TFC have won 4 straights games and now sit second in the Eastern Conference at 33 points. They also have 2 games in hand on NYCFC who sit in first (37 points). During those 4 games Sebastian Giovinco has 7 goals (including 2 hat tricks) and 3 assists for the team as well. Earning themselves 12 points in 4 games has also put them in an incredible position to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 games left in the regular season.
While all these stats are great for the team on their own the fact that TFC have gone on this winning streak while facing multiple injuries gives it even more significance.
5 weeks ago Michael Bradley and Will Johnson were ruled out for 4-6 weeks for TFC. Those two injuries were in addition to starting GK Clint Irwin, who was ruled out for 6 weeks after an injury on June 25th. Also, Jozy Altidore who has been battling injuries for the entire 2016 campaign.
Back then, I wrote that if TFC wanted to stay competitive they were going to have to defend their home field as 6 of their next 8 were at home. If you look at the past 5 weeks for TFC, they have done just that. In 6 games at home they are 5-0-1 for 16 out of a possible 18 points. On the road they went 0-1-1 including that loss to San Jose.
This great form has been led by MVP-favorite Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco had been in a bit of a slump before the winning streak, failing to score in the 9 previous matches and only having 1 assist. The 7 goals and 3 assists he has had in this streak jump started the TFC offense and allowed them to get the wins. The Italian striker now must be the MVP favorite not only because he leads the MLS in goals (15) and is tied for second in assists (10) but also because he is obviously the leader and offensive mastermind for TFC.
Some people will try to argue that 3 of the 4 wins have come against sub par opposition (DC, Columbus, and New England). The problem with this argument is that TFC has beaten them all by 3 goals and they also won 1-0 against a very tough Real Salt Lake side.
TFC are also getting their key players back, too. Altidore has featured as a sub in all 4 of these wins (2 goals and 1 assist) and Michael Bradley was back in the starting XI vs. New England. The Toronto squad is also hoping Irwin and Johnson will be back in the coming weeks.
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With their great form and key players returning, TFC look to be heading into the peak of their season at the perfect time. Half of their 12 remaining games are at home and it looks like they have escaped their injury crises without it ruining their season. Toronto FC are lining themselves to be a contender for the MLS Cup this season. If I was a TFC supporter, I would be very excited about the possibility of the team to bring home another piece of silverware in December.