They say good things come to those who wait, and the 21,759 supporters who watched tonight’s game at BMO Field certainly got a taste of that tonight. After nine years of disappointment, Toronto FC finally celebrated a decade of existence with a huge victory at BMO Field.
Tonight’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union was the first playoff win in club history, in the first playoff game they have ever hosted. The club had never even scored in the postseason before until the 15th minute of tonight’s match.
For once, in the big game, the big moment, Toronto FC delivered. From start to finish this is a performance that they can be proud of, a moment they can point to as a step forward for the long stagnant franchise.
“It feels good, I think everybody’s in a good mood right now which they should be,” said defender Drew Moor after the match. “It was a battle, Philadelphia threw everything they had at us.”
That was certainly the case in the early part of the match, as the Union came out of the gate looking for the kind of early goal that has been Toronto FC’s kryptonite lately. They couldn’t find it, instead it was Toronto who struck an early and crucial blow.
Surely nobody is surprised at who fired Toronto FC in front, as it was Sebastian Giovinco who scored the club’s first playoff goal. Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore also scored for Toronto FC, while Alejandro Bedoya scored the lone Union goal.
Giovinco’s tally set the tone for a match in which Toronto FC’s designated players dominated. All three — Altidore, Giovinco, and Michael Bradley — had outstanding performances in what was their biggest game since joining the club. Altidore, especially, was a difference maker tonight.
“Jozy was just huge,” said TFC coach Greg Vanney of his striker’s play. “He played big, he played physical. At times he just looked possessed to track down the ball and take it away from people. He used his size.”
Tonight’s match was packed with moments that will live long in the memory of Toronto supporters, but perhaps none more so than the winning goal. When the hometown kid, Osorio, found the back of the net off of a corner kick in the second half it was a powerful enough moment to send shivers down the spine of even the most cynical supporter.
There was one worrying moment in an otherwise incredible night for the club: Philadelphia’s lone goal which came late in the second half. Off of a corner, Toronto FC lost three straight defensive headers before Bedoya found the back of the net.
It was enough to send TFC fans, conditioned to expect late and heartbreaking comebacks from their opponents, into a fit of worry. But it was not enough to slow down the team itself, who coolly finished off the game thereafter, which is a very positive sign.
The win gives Toronto FC some much-needed momentum going into the Conference semi-finals against New York City FC. They begin Sunday, in Toronto, and TFC will be looking to turn the momentum from tonight into another big playoff victory.
“I think the experience of having played in this game, in a one-off, in a do-or-die game, it’s invaluable,” said Bradley after the match. “New York City doesn’t have that.”
Their eyes are already fixed forward on their next target, the next hurdle they hope to overcome for the first time. But that doesn’t mean that a few moments can’t be spared to really celebrating what it is they accomplished tonight.
“For tonight, every player, every person who is a part of this club, who has been a part of this club, every fan, every person in Toronto who supporters us, should enjoy [the win],” said Bradley. “Then starting tomorrow we will get ourselves ready for two tough games against a good team.”
Enjoy tonight, Toronto FC fans, it has been a long-time coming. Maybe, just maybe, all that patience means even more good things are in store over the next few weeks. Tonight’s performance would certainly hint at that fact.