Toronto FC full value in dominant win over D.C. United

D.C. United midfielders Lloyd Sam (8) and Ian Harkes (23) work to take the ball from Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) (Frank Gunn/CP)

• MLS – D.C. United 0, Toronto FC 2 (Altidore 60’, Hamilton 85’)
• TFC earns its 100th regular season win in club history
• Giovinco, Bradley, Altidore reunited for 1st time since May 3

TORONTO – It should have been far more comfortable considering the way they dominated the game.

But Toronto FC was still full value for a 2-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday night before an announced sellout of 28, 627 spectators at BMO Field to hold onto first place in the Major League Soccer standings.

Jozy Altidore put in a man-of-the-match effort, scoring his team-leading seventh goal of the campaign with a sublime finish on an equally heavenly setup from Sebastian Giovinco. Substitute Jordan Hamilton notched a late goal for the home side, again set up by Giovinco.

The Reds outplayed the hapless D.C club, who have now gone over 600 minutes without a goal from open play in MLS, dictating the pace of the match, enjoying the majority of possession, and taking almost three times as many shots. Still, United was allowed to stay in the match until the very end thanks to some fine goalkeeping by Bill Hamid and wasteful finishing by TFC.

“The first half was tight. They did a good job of getting numbers behind the ball and clogging things up. We got a little impatient as the game wore on and were trying to force some things,” TFC coach Greg Vanney admitted.

“Credit to D.C.; they were very difficult to break down. … We made some adjustments in the second half in terms of how we wanted to try to attack them, and that opened a lot of things for us.”

Toronto is now unbeaten in its last nine MLS regular-season home games (with seven wins). This victory also allowed TFC to get the sour taste out of their mouth left over from their previous outing, a disappointing 3-0 loss away to the New England Revolution on June 3 that ended an eight-game unbeaten run.

Vanney fielded a full-strength side on this night, which included forwards Altidore and Giovinco, and captain Michael Bradley. All three designated players started a game together for the first time since a 2-1 win at BMO Field against Orlando City on May 3 – they missed time together due to injury (Giovinco) and international duty (Altidore and Bradley).

Last week’s bye appeared to do TFC a world of good. The Reds looked refreshed and rejuvenated, playing some free-flowing soccer at times, stroking the ball around with ease, and using the full width of the field.

Bradley and Marky Delgado held the midfield together with their solid defensive play, contributing offensively with their probing runs and passing, and combined to provide a solid foundation in the centre of the park.

“They both have a great capacity, first and foremost, to cover [a lot] of ground. They’re very much aware of their surroundings and aware of each other,” Vanney explained.

“Marky plays simple, he’s efficient; he never tries to do too much. … The two of them do a nice job of just being aware of each other and keeping the game simple for everybody else.”

The dangerous trident of Altidore, Giovinco and Victor Vazquez effectively linked up in attack. Some of the play between the three was very intricate, and led to the best scoring chance of the first half when Vazquez set up Giovinco for a long-range shot that forced a fine save from Hamid. Altidore scrambled for the rebound, but put his header wide.

A sweeping attacking play from left to right involving the aforementioned trio, and Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow nearly led to a TFC goal shortly after the re-start, with Morrow unable to latch onto a low cross played to the back post by Beitashour.

Toronto broke the deadlock moments later, starting with a timely intervention from Bradley. Giovinco delivered a gorgeous, defence-splitting pass from the flank for Altidore who took it in stride just outside the box and beat Hamid with a brilliant finish with the outside of his foot.

“I tried to put myself in a good spot [and] stay onside. Seba is what he is – he’s the best player in the league, and has been since he’s been here,” Altidore said.

Hamilton put the game away late in regulation when the Canadian scored on a glancing header off a corner kick from Giovinco.

“He’s got a special knack for being in the right place in goal-scoring moments,” Vanney said of Hamilton.

NOTES: Saturday marked Michael Bradley’s 100th appearance for Toronto FC in all competitions since joining the club in 2014. Only three other TFC players have hit the century mark: Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio and Justin Morrow… Bradley picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, which means he’ll be suspended for TFC’s next MLS game… Toronto returns to action next Wednesday when it visits the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final. Two days later, the Reds host the New England Revolution in MLS…

TFC Pitchside will provide Toronto FC supporters with an inside look into their favourite obsession Monday nights at 11 pm ET on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. Call it an all-access pass for all things MLS brought to you by co-hosts Dan Riccio, Thomas Michalakos and producer Amil Delic. You'll hear from the biggest names around the club, and the MLS. You'll also get reviews and previews of every TFC game with reports from Pitchside at training and on game days at BMO Field. The Six is about to get done!