Toronto FC explodes for five goals in New York to set up Eastern final clash with Montreal.
NEW YORK— Toronto FC surprised even itself at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night by routing New York City FC 5-0 — propelling the side to its first Eastern Conference final.
“It’s a special night,” defender Drew Moor said following the win. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
The Reds — led by Sebastian Giovinco’s hat trick — had won the opening leg of the semifinal 2-0 on home turf and knew exactly what it would take to advance. Scoring five unanswered goals was beyond any expectations.
“It’s really crazy that it ended up that way, but we deserved it,” goalkeeper Clint Irwin said. “We were aggressive. We kept pushing. We played the same way from the first minute in the first leg to the last minute in this leg.”
The emphatic victory sets the stage for an all-Canadian conference final against the Montreal Impact — who swept the New York Red Bulls — starting Nov. 22 at Olympic Stadium.
TFC set the tone early, when Giovinco beat New York City defender Maxime Chanot to open the scoring in the sixth minute. The Italian received a pass from Jozy Altidore at top of the box, with his back to the net. Using the inside of his right cleat, he flicked the ball between his legs, turning Chanot inside out. A touch later, the ball was past goalkeeper Eirik Johansen and in the net.
“When we can get a lead we’ve been a very, very good team, because teams have to open up a little bit more,” said TFC coach Greg Vanney. “They have to attack a little bit more and, as we saw tonight, when you leave spaces in transition . . . we can be very punishing.”
And punish they did. Less than 15 min- Ignacio Piatti scored both goals in the Montreal Impact’s 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. Story, S6 utes later, Giovinco struck again.
More fancy footwork from the striker drew a penalty, after New York City defender Frederic Bravo chopped at the Atomic Ant’s ankle. Giovinco’s signature shot — low to the left-hand corner — didn’t disappoint.
Toronto’s travelling supporters — about 300 red-clad fans largely clustered in a single section behind where home plate would normally be — were in full voice by then, at times louder than the rest of the crowd of 28,355 at the home of baseball’s Yankees.
After Altidore scored the next goal, they serenaded him with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The striker — who turned 27 on Sunday — collected a bouncing long ball and, with one touch, volleyed it in from a tight angle.
Midfielder Jonathan Osorio and Giovinco again rounded out the scoring in the second half — icing on the cake.
After a two-week break for international play, the MLS playoffs will resume. The winner of the two-leg conference final will advance to the MLS Cup championship game on Dec. 10.
Irwin said Sunday’s dominant win should send a message to the rest of the MLS final four — but the immediate focus is on the rival Impact, who eliminated TFC in the knockout round last year.
“They’ve shown that they’re getting hot at the right time, so it’s going to be a tough game,” said Irwin. “We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and be the best version of us.”
Captain Michael Bradley, a fixture
“We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and be the best version of us.” TFC GOALKEEPER CLINT IRWIN
on the American national team, is looking forward to the all-Canadian showdown.
“I think it sets up in an amazing way, for soccer in Canada, for everybody in those two cities,” said Toronto captain Michael Bradley. “We’re enjoying this for the moment but already, in the back of our minds, we can’t wait for that because I think it’s going to be two unbelievable games, two games in incredible atmospheres.
“The history, the rivalry, the dislike between the two clubs, the two cities — yeah, for me you couldn’t write it up any better.”
TFC striker Sebastian Giovinco, right, scored six minutes in and the floodgates opened in a blowout victory over New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.