After spending the last two months getting booed in American stadiums, Bradley – with a staggering 28 defensive actions – put in one of the all-time MLS Cup performances. Altidore, with his one chance, slotted home the winner.
Giovinco and Victor Vazquez were great, as were others, but Bradley and Altidore were TFC’s heart on this run. They were both immense, and they’re both champions. That doesn’t erase the qualifying failure. But legacies, as we know, are complicated things.
4. A Remarkable Turnaround
It is amazing to think about just how far Toronto has come in the last three years.
In the fall of 2014, the club hit a nadir. They had fired manager Ryan Nelsen, Jermaine Defoe had checked out, and the club was in the process of missing the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
Things began to change in 2015 when Giovinco and Altidore came aboard, but even that season ended in ignominy: a landslide loss at Montreal in TFC’s first ever playoff appearance.
Since that game, however, Toronto has been the class of the league. They should have won the title last year, and, in adding Victor Vazquez before this season, they stomped to a treble this year.
In the process, TFC has gone from laughingstock to one of the league’s premier clubs both on and off the field. This was a well-deserved triumph.
5. Looking Ahead
We’re entering one of the most pivotal stretches in the recent history of MLS and U.S. Soccer.
In the next several months, MLS will name its next two expansion teams, U.S. Soccer will elect its next president and hire its next senior national team manager, and a decision could be made on the future of the Columbus Crew.
The league, meanwhile – thanks to a huge influx of Targeted Allocation Money – will continue to improve as it builds towards a 2018 season will see the debut of a new stadium in DC and a new team in LA.
It’s going to be an eventful winter.