Sixteen and a half minutes. That’s all it took for Jermain Defoe to explode onto Major League Soccer. Described by Toronto as a bloody big deal, Defoe certainly made it seem that way with his performance last Saturday. Grabbing a second inside half an hour, the forward showed the kind of predatory instinct that goes some way to justifying his Designated Player salary.
Behind him was “Captain America” Michael Bradley. Gifted man of the match and leading from the middle of the park, Bradley is a massive upgrade for the club’s midfield, and proved that on Saturday against Seattle, giving the team a steel and craft with his smart passing, Toronto are certainly blessed. A team that on paper should easily make the playoffs this season, we arguably saw both sides of the Reds in this game.
There was undoubted moments of quality from Defoe, Bradley and those around them. However there were also lulls in which Seattle exerted concentrated pressure on Ryan Nelsen’s side. The New Zealander responded well. Having previously been questioned over his tactical eye, Nelsen was smart to switch Alvaro Rey and Jackson from left to right wing during the second half.
Keen to operate in a 4-4-2, his side will fly or fail based on how healthy he can keep his spine. Bradley will almost certainly miss a handful of games with the World Cup, but if Toronto can ride that bump they could finally be set to taste the playoffs.
Toronto’s next game is their first home match of the season, this Saturday at 4:30pm ET against DC United. For soccer fans in the United States, the match is available on MLS Live. Canadians can watch the game live on TSN.