Decision day didn’t go exactly as planned for Toronto FC, but at least the team did their part. Toronto FC will not receive a first round playoff bye after New York City FC was able to keep a hold of their second place spot in the Eastern Conference.
But tonight’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago Fire will give Toronto FC an injection of confidence going into the playoffs midweek. The game snapped a five-game winless streak for the club.
Toronto will be hoping that they can do it all again on Wednesday when the Philadelphia Union come to town. How this season is ultimately judged will depend heavily on how they do in this match.
“Momentum counts for a lot this time of year,” said Toronto captain Michael Bradley after the match tonight. “We wanted to finish [the season] in a really positive way in front of our own fans, and get ourselves ready for a really important week in the best possible way.”
Second in importance only to tonight’s result is the fact that Toronto was able to get three goals, after struggling offensively as of late. Not only was it crucial that they scored those goals, it was who scored those goals as well.
Jonathan Osorio has been snakebit in front of goal as of late, but today scored a goal that is sure to lift his confidence. He slalomed through Chicago defenders before firing what would end up being the winning goal into the top of the net.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Giovinco, who just recently returned from injury, might be the reason the club got any result today. He was the bright spot in a fairly bleak first half for Toronto FC, creating several chances before finally converting a penalty to send the match into the break tied at 1-1. He also had an excellent setup of Justin Morrow’s second goal.
“There were also four outside of the net that I did not get on target, this I’m not happy about,” said Giovinco of his performance. “But of course I’m happy for the goal, I’m happy for the win and I will look to be more precise on Wednesday.”
Another thing the team will be looking to improve on come Wednesday is their defending, which made this match a lot closer than it should have been. Clint Irwin made a terrible error on the first goal, which saw Toronto fall behind early. They also fell asleep late in the match and allowed a second goal.
If they want to go deep in this year’s playoffs they will need Irwin, and the players in front of him, to be a lot sharper than they have been lately. The good news is that Toronto has proven that they can defend this season. They finished the regular season as the best defensive team in the east, a massive improvement.
But they also finished the regular season with only one win in their last six games, which will draw questions as to their chances in a single game elimination match. The team said afterwards that they were looking to avoid playing in the knockout round, but will be ready now that they are here.
“If we can understand what has gotten us to this point, concentrate on every little detail, make sure that when the lights come on everyone is ready to spill their guts onto the field, if we are able to make the important plays at both ends of the field then I like our chances,” said Bradley.
When those lights come on, for the first time ever, they will the lights of Toronto’s home BMO Field. Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the Philadelphia Union will be the first time Toronto FC will play a playoff game at home.
“I’ll let you know Thursday morning,” Michael Bradley said jokingly when asked about the importance of home field advantage in this match. “It can be huge. I think our fans and this city have been waiting a long time for a home playoff game. I would expect that we will see a pretty special atmosphere on Wednesday night.”