Toronto blasts Vancouver; win 3-0

Pablo Piatti scored his first two MLS goals, and Toronto FC returned to regular-season action with a 3-0 win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday night.

As MLS enters Phase One of its return to the regular season, Toronto FC remained undefeated in matches that count, thanks to a dominant performance against one of its league rivals and the play of the longtime La Liga midfielder.

Toronto is 7-0-9 during the regular season since a 2-0 loss at New York Red Bulls on Aug. 3, 2019.

Piatti scored in the 27th minute and again in the 55th, and Nick DeLeon added more insurance with his 83rd-minute goal as Toronto controlled the pace of the game from the get-go while playing in front of an empty stadium.

Due to coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, the league’s three Canadian squads will play only each other through Sept. 9.

These teams will meet again at Toronto on Friday night.

One of the bigger surprises while reaching the knockout round of the recent MLS is Back Tournament, Vancouver was unable to do much offensively. The Whitecaps possessed the ball just 24.8 percent of the time.

Toronto, which outshot Vancouver 24-4 overall, recorded four shots on target within the first 21 minutes. Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio were particularly active for Toronto FC from the start, but Vancouver keeper Thomas Hasal was up to the task in the early going.

The home side was eventually rewarded in the 27th minute when Piatti delivered a spectacular, left-footed, cross-body strike from just outside the top of the box and into the top-right corner of the net. Osorio was credited with an assist on the goal.

Piatti struck again just prior to the hour mark when Osorio’s cross in the box was deflected, but landed right at the feet of Piatti. He promptly drove it home to increase Toronto’s advantage.

DeLeon iced the result for Toronto with a curling goal from the left side of the box in the final minutes. Alejandro Pozuelo recorded his sixth assist in as many regular matches on the play.