Jozy Altidore leads TFC to 1st win of season

Jozy Altidore took it upon himself to end Toronto FC’s scoring drought, and finally earn a win.

Altidore scored twice as Toronto earned its first victory of the Major League Soccer season on Friday, a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake. Tosaint Ricketts scored Toronto’s third goal late in injury time.

The fast-paced game also marked the first goals the defending MLS champion Reds (1-2-0) scored this season.

“We’ve been kind of stuttering the first couple of games of the season, so to finally get some points on the board, it’s positive,” Altidore said. “We’re not in the cellar anymore looking up at everybody else.”

Altidore finally notched this season’s first goal when he was taken down in the box by Justen Glad and awarded a penalty kick in the 23rd minute. Altidore calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

His goal came seven minutes after Sebastian Giovinco missed on a penalty kick, firing it straight to an outstretched Rimando — a repeat of last season’s opener when Rimando stopped Giovinco’s penalty kick.

‘Altidore has been motivated’

“Stepping up and burying the second PK was bold and we needed it,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. “Rimando is notoriously the best goalkeeper when you’re dealing with PKs. (Altidore) has been motivated and great for us.”

Altidore scored again in the 45th minute, when he one-timed a pass from Ashtone Morgan, firing a rocket into the bottom right corner that Rimando never had time to move for. It was Altidore’s 50th career goal for Toronto.

“It’s a pretty cool milestone,” Altidore said. “It’s not bad, three years and change and 50 goals. I’m happy with it.”

Vanney is similarly happy.

“Jozy has I think for awhile now been probably one of best players in the league. He constantly brings us this presence up top,” said the coach.

Corey Baird scored Salt Lake’s lone goal in the 82nd minute.

Ricketts had Toronto’s third goal when Ager Aketxe banged a shot off the crossbar, and Ricketts sprinted in for the rebound less than a minute before the final whistle.

With the win in front of 28,006 fans on a chilly 3 C night at BMO Field, Toronto avoided becoming the first defending MLS champion in history to open the season with three straight losses. The team had opened the season with losses to Columbus and Montreal, Vanney didn’t push the panic button, saying the regular season can have a topsy-turvy start for many teams.

Champions League on Tuesday

Friday, he said both the win and his team’s solid performance were important, particularly with what’s on the horizon. Toronto hosts Mexican powerhouse Club America in the opening leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series on Tuesday.

“You want to have some things clicking and guys fitting together,” Vanney said. “But at the same time, the win is critical because there’s a confidence that builds with that when you put the W on the board. When you go into the next game with a win, it’s obviously a better feeling than when you get in with a loss.”

Real Salt Lake (1-2-1) was coming off a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Their best chance came in the 51st minute when Joao Plata had a shot that Toronto ‘keeper Clint Irwin got his gloves on. Demar Phillips also launched a shot in the 71st minute that breezed just wide of the net.

The Reds were coming off a welcome week off for an international break that followed a busy start to their season, thanks to their success in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“It was important today to get a result at home and give ourselves some confidence going into Tuesday,” Altidore said on their matchup with Club America.

The second leg of the series is at Azteca Stadium on April 10th.

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CBC | Soccer News