By Jerry Mancini at BMO Field.
Toronto FC defeated Portland Timbers 3-1 on Saturday night to extend their unbeaten streak to four games (three wins and one draw).
Lorenzo Insigne scored late in the second half and he has now provided the game-winner for TFC in consecutive matches.
“I thought after 15 minutes we picked the tempo up and started to move the ball quickly,” Toronto manager, Bob Bradley said of his club’s performance.
“We were able to move up the field as a team. So, I really like that part. Good first goal.”
“Halftime, the talk is how to make sure that we don’t drop back. Had to get the second goal.
“We do have two lapses in the second half but before it goes to 1-1, we have a number of really good chances to get to 2-0. Then the response at 1-1 is very good and the third one finishes the game.
“The concentration at the end of the game was quite good.”
It was Insigne’s best performance in a TFC jersey. He was effective throughout the match. The Italian was the facilitator on several occasions, made quality passes, opened space and was decisive in the final third. He had five shots on target, made three key passes, two successful dribbles, as well as his goal.
It was a dominant performance from the home side with their other goals coming from Jonathon Osorio and Federico Bernardeschi. Jose Van Rankin provided the lone goal for Portland.
Since Insigne and Bernardeschi made their debut for Toronto back on July 23 versus Charlotte, the club has managed to turn their season around and remain unbeaten with both players in the lineup.
The offence has seen a significant shift, scoring 11 goals in their past four games. Of those 11 goals, five have come from Insigne and Bernardeschi.
Toronto have managed to move the ball quicker, are more technical with and without the ball, and have created quality scoring chances.
The Italians’ experience has played a key role as they’ve made it increasingly difficult for teams to defend against.
“These guys bring some special qualities,” added Bradley.
“Then you put that into the middle of some of the other things that we try to do as a team, but I thought both Lorenzo, his goal was a special goal and then Fede finishes the game.”
Heading into this match, Portland were one of the hottest teams in the league as they were unbeaten in their past ten matches.
It was the longest run in MLS and they had the fourth-best attack in the league. Toronto put an end to their unbeaten run and limited Portland’s dangerous attack.
While Toronto’s offence has been a factor in their recent victories, the backend has also contributed to their success.
In the past four games they have conceded four goals and the defence stepped up vastly versus Portland.
Portland had very few scoring opportunities. They were limited to two shots on target and a possession rate of 43%.
Their leading goal scorer, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, was held to 11 touches and wasn’t impactful throughout the course of the match. He had zero shots, lost possession twice and was dispossessed on one occasion.
It was a collective effort from the defence. Chris Mavinga finished the match with a team-high five clearances while Domenico Criscito led in interceptions with four. They gave Portland little space to work with as Toronto were physical and relentless.
With the defence starting to find its form and the offence heating up at the moment, Toronto are set to make a late surge for the MLS playoffs.