Jozy Altidore scored the winning goal in the 84th minute, his second goal of the playoffs. Tosaint Ricketts added a second for good measure, while Clint Irwin was full value for a big playoff clean sheet.
A thunderous BMO Field crowd greeted the teams as they came out onto the pitch before the match, certainly one of the loudest in the stadium's history. It helped Toronto FC off to a quick start, creating several early chances. The best of which came when a brilliant layoff from Altidore found Giovinco behind the NYCFC backline. He couldn't beat Eirik Johansen in the NYCFC net, however.
The playoff intensity started early, with both Toronto FC and New York City FC playing a chippy first half. Armando Cooper and David Villa were in the middle of it, having goes at each other throughout the half. Things escalated when Villa kicked out at Cooper after being tackled, which saw the two teams come together in a scrum.
After a strong start, Toronto FC seemed to get bogged down in the game's constant start and stop play. A shocking 18 fouls were handed out in the first half, with three yellow cards following suit. Toronto had several free kicks around the NYCFC box, but could not make them count.
The two sides headed into halftime at 0-0, a scoreline certainly preferred by the visitors. NYCFC did a good job of disrupting any of Toronto's attacks, and keeping Giovinco and Altidore in check.
Toronto FC started off the second half on the front foot once again, as things seemed to open up a little bit for them. They had two glorious chances, one of which saw the ball go into the back of the net before being called back for an Altidore handball. The second saw Drew Moor unable to convert a back post header after being kicked in the face by a New York defender.
The match took a controversial turn midway through the half when Altidore was brought down by a New York defender in the box, with his arms wrapped all over him. It looked like a penalty upon first replay, but referee Silviu Petrescu did not make the call. Jonathan Osorio sent the rebound high over the net.
NYCFC continued their chippy style throughout the second half, but Petrescu was not as forgiving in the second half. Five yellow cards were issued to New York players on the day, most of them in the second frame.
New York did have a couple of chances late in the match as well, when they caught Toronto sleeping at the back around the 80th minute. They forced a save from Irwin and a couple of big defensive clearances to keep the game level.
In the 83rd minute, with the game still tied 0-0, Toronto FC brought on Ricketts to try and grab a crucial winning goal. He made an instant impact, winning the ball in the box. It squirted free to Altidore, who made no mistake thundering it into the back of the net.
Ricketts continued his dominance moments later when the ball fell to him in front of the NYCFC goal. Ricketts initial shot was stopped but he volleyed in the rebound from the ground to make it 2-0.
The pair of goals, and the fact that they did not concede an away goal as well, gives Toronto FC a fairly big advantage going into New York. The second leg will be played next Sunday at Yankee Stadium.