Much like in the first leg of the previous round of the MLS playoffs against New York City, Toronto FC entered the final 30 minutes of their Eastern Conference final first leg against the Montreal Impact needing a spark from somewhere.
Once again, they found it on the bench. Not for the first time, Will Johnson and Tosaint Ricketts were influential after coming on together in the 57th minute, helping to turn the tide of the match and salvage a 3-2 defeat that gives the Reds a very real chance of progressing to the MLS Cup final at BMO Field.
Here’s how we assessed each individual TFC player at the Olympic Stadium.
Clint Irwin: Didn’t do a lot wrong in the first half, but Ambroise Oyongo’s third goal looked eminently saveable and could have been a back breaker. 5.
Eriq Zavaleta: Probably the best performer in defence for TFC, making a team-leading seven tackles. Can’t really be faulted for any of the goals. 7.
Drew Moor: Had one of those nights where things seemed to be going wrong for him that he couldn’t necessarily control. Mancosu used Hagglund as a screen to escape him for the second goal, and on the third he will be criticised for not closing down Oyongo but must have been expecting Irwin to make the save. 6.
Nick Hagglund: At times looked best equipped to deal with the Montreal counters with his athleticism, but did not cover himself in glory on the first or second goals. 5.
Steven Beitashour: An awful clearing header in a completely unthreatening situation led to the second goal, which is unfortunate because he did not do a bad job of containing Piatti otherwise. 5.
Armando Cooper: Tried his best to be his usual busy self and drive the midfield forward, but too often found himself isolated and struggled to link with his team-mates. 6.
Michael Bradley: While Bradley is not immune from criticism, complaining about his inability to chase after fast players is about as useful as asking why Irwin does not score as many goals as Giovinco. Toronto were not compact enough in midfield and he was overrun for much of the game, but his finish for the second goal was excellent. 6.
Jonathan Osorio: Really not his night - looked lost on both sides of the ball. It’s easy to say with hindsight, but Johnson might have made more sense in this game. The second leg should provide him with more opportunities to do what he is good at. 4.
Justin Morrow: As energetic down the left as ever, but his use of the ball was uncharacteristically wasteful. 6.
Jozy Altidore: Probably the most ineffective player on the pitch in the first half, but took the chance that came his way and put his physicality to much better use after the break. 6.
Sebastian Giovinco: Much like Cooper, he often looked like a small man surrounded by a sea of blue giants. Still managed to showcase his class on a couple of occasions, however, and assisted Toronto’s first goal. 7.
Will Johnson: Did everything Greg Vanney will have asked of him in midfield. Kept TFC in a tighter shape in the middle of the park, used the ball intelligently and got in the Montreal box. 8.
Tosaint Ricketts: Once again, the Ricketts-Altidore pairing with Giovinco in the hole worked wonders late in the game against Montreal. Didn’t get on the scoresheet himself, but calmly laid the ball off for Bradley to make it 3-2. 7.
Mark Bloom: A late replacement for Beitashour.
Men & women of the match
The 1,400 (and more) Toronto FC fans eventually rewarded for their fantastic support.