BMO Field becoming a fortress for TFC, with D.C. United the latest victim
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TORONTO — It's taken Toronto FC 11 seasons to notch its 100th regular-season win but the victories are coming quickly these days.
Especially at home.
Second-half goals by Jozy Altidore and Jordan Hamilton helped Toronto put away a resolute D.C. United in a 2-0 win before an amped-up, soldout crowd of 28,627 Saturday night.
Sebastian Giovinco set up both goals.
Toronto (9-2-5) is undefeated at home this season with six wins and two draws. Its undefeated run at BMO Field extends to nine (7-0-2) if you count last year's regular-season finale against Chicago.
There is the matter of the MLS Cup final loss to Seattle on Dec. 10, of course, but that post-season loss aside Toronto has not lost at home in league play since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of D.C. United on Oct. 1.
Toronto's last home game was May 31 and the crowd, eager to cheer again, was loud and proud from the get-go Saturday.
"It was amazing," said coach Greg Vanney, citing the "churning" in his stomach during the fan-driven national anthem.
"For me, it's exciting. It's one of the unique and great things about being here in Toronto and playing in this stadium. Every time we have a home game essentially now you get that feeling. And I think that's part of what makes this place the fortress that we love to play in
"I think we're starting to get a little bit of a swagger at home," he added.
The win raised Toronto's all-time regular-season record to 100-146-94. Sixty-nine of those wins have come at home.
While the game matched the first- and ninth-placed teams in the Eastern Conference, D.C. United (4-8-3) was by no means an easy out and proved to be a stubborn opponent. League-leading Toronto pushed the pace but D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was equal to the task for an hour.
The game marked captain Michael Bradley's 100th in all competitions for Toronto. Once again, he was influential with 80 touches — a game-high for both teams.
It was also the first opportunity for Vanney to field all three designated players — Bradley, Altidore and Giovinco — since May 3 due to injuries and international duty.
And the three stars engineered the breakthrough goal in the 60th minute after Bradley broke up a D.C. United attack. He fed the ball to Giovinco, who split the defence with a perfect pass to Altidore. The U.S. international pushed the ball ahead with a fine first touch and then calmly beat Hamid from the edge of the box for his seventh of the season.
Hamilton, who had come on in the 75th minute, made it 2-0 on a wonderful glancing header off a Giovinco corner in the 85th minute.
"I thought we were the better team throughout the whole game," said Altidore.
Toronto outshot D.C. United 21-5 (7-1 in shots on target).
All three Toronto DPs were yellow-carded in a game that grew chippier as the evening wore on. Bradley's 68th-minute caution means he will miss next Friday's game against New England because of yellow card accumulation.
While D.C. United proved resolute on defence, its offence was missing in action once again.
Ben Olsen's team has not scored in 299 minutes in league play and has just one goal, via penalty kick, in its last seven league outings (1-5-1). Its last league goal in open play came April 30th in a 3-1 win over Atlanta.
"If I knew how to fix it I would've done it by now," said Olsen. "We are going to keep trying and sometimes it just takes that one to get the ball rolling, to get hot, it makes the players mad. We'll come back from this."
It was the first of six games in 19 days for Toronto. The scheduling logjam includes the two-legged Canadian Championship final with Montreal.
Vanney's team was well-rested, however. It had not played since June 3, a 3-0 loss in New England that snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1).
Giovinco was booked late in the 40th minute for throwing the ball in disgust after being called for a foul.
Altidore was booked in the 65th minute for a tackle on defender Steve Birnbaum. The two had tangled minutes earlier and Altidore was clearly upset at the contact.
There were six yellow cards in all, with four going to Toronto.
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