A little luck, a lot of aggression and strong performances from TFC's top players added up to a well-deserved 2-0 Toronto FC victory over the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field Sunday.
TFC captain Dwayne De Rosario opened the scoring in the 58th minute on a fortuitous play and later set up O'Brian White for an insurance marker.
Julian de Guzman played his best game in a Toronto uniform and keeper Stefan Frei made three brilliant saves to give his side a chance to come away with all three points from the victory.
As expected, TFC went with a new look up front and it paid off.
De Rosario, who had scored all of the club's goals coming in, shifted to a midfield role, while O'Brian White and Chad Barrett were paired up front for the first time.
But it was the maligned de Guzman who got the offensive engine revving.
Displaying the midfield wizardry TFC's management expected when it made the Canadian its first designated player last season, de Guzman gave Seattle fits throughout.
De Guzman had been mediocre this season and made a huge gaffe in the club's previous match that directly resulted in a goal.
On this rainy afternoon, though, de Guzman was brilliant, particularly in the first half. Seattle could not take the ball from him and he created chances all over the field.
Unfortunately, his teammates couldn't convert on them and the game remained 0-0 at the half. The shots were 5-2 for Seattle after the first 45 minutes though Toronto's White notched the only shot on net. A fine chance that veteran Kasey Keller knocked wide.
That all changed in the 58th minute when a cross by Barrett hit the referee before caroming to Sounders defender Osvaldo Alonso.
Alonso fanned on a clearing attempt in front of his net, freeing up De Rosario to pot his fifth goal of the season.
With Frei shutting the door at the other end capping the club's top performance of the season, White's goal became meaningless.
Still, it was a nice play that brought the crowd of 18,394 to its feet.
Substitute Dan Gargan got the ball to De Rosario, who made a stellar chip pass to White, who then made no mistake, blasting it past Keller.
It was White's first of the year and the first by a Toronto player other than De Rosario.
Preki made a surprising move in the 79th minute, removing De Rosario in favour of little-used midfielder Gabe Gala. Fittingly, de Guzman put on the captain's armband following De Rosario's exit.
Though Seattle is only in its second MLS season, there is clearly no love lost between TFC and the Sounders.
De Rosario and Seattle standout Freddie Ljungberg got into a shouting match last season and the hostility continued Sunday, thanks in large part to TFC's Martin Saric.
The sides were already yapping and shoving at each other, but Saric's brutal two-footed tackle on Ljungberg kicked the tension up a notch.
Amazingly, Saric was not carded on the play, but, starting a trend that was to continue throughout, the officials later handed him a yellow on a much tamer tackle.
Also in the first half, Seattle's Sanna Nyassi got a yellow card for not giving Toronto enough space on a fre kick. It seemed like another makeup call since midfielder Nick LaBrocca had complained about being encroached on during an earlier free kick.