Nail meet Coffin. Toronto FC put New York City FC seven goals under tonight on aggregate, advancing to their first ever Conference final where they will meet their rivals: the Montreal Impact.
Toronto FC came into this match needing only not to lose in order to book a ticket to the third round of the playoffs. They could have parked the bus, frustrated NYCFC, and left Yankee Stadium with a 0-0 draw that would have done the job.
But this Toronto FC team has proven that they aren’t about half measures. Instead, the result was never in doubt as they lay a heavy beating on the host side en route to a dominating 5-0 victory. It was their biggest win of the season, and the timing could not have been more perfect.
It took Toronto FC only six minutes to put the tie all but out of reach, as their early aggression paid off with a Sebastian Giovinco goal. Right from kick off Toronto FC’s attackers pressed the NYCFC backline, as they did to perfection in the first leg.
Greg Vanney got things spot on tactically in this regard, knowing how big an away goal could be. He could have changed his lineup for this match to be more defensive, but instead stuck with the group that have gotten him to this point.
Leading that group has been exactly who one would expect: the clubs three designated players. They were at their best again today, especially the Giovinco- Jozy Altidore partnership. The atomic ant added his fifth hat-trick, and undoubtedly his biggest, as a member of Toronto FC while birthday boy Altidore scored a beauty.
Also of importance is the fact that Jonathan Osorio was able to add his third goal in four matches. Keeping secondary scoring hot will be crucial going forward as Toronto FC tries to do the unthinkable.
Everyone knows Yankee Stadium is easy to score at, with several outrageous score lines playing out there this season. However, somewhat underrated in this performance is the fact that Toronto was able to keep New York off the scoresheet. Sure, the boys in blue looked completely defeated 20 minutes in, but not conceding a single goal in the tie is nothing to scoff at either.
Also in the good news department, which seems to be growing steadily after this match, is the fact that no Toronto FC player was booked. Armando Cooper, Michael Bradley and Altidore, all on yellow cards, will be available going forward.
Tonight didn’t really feel much like an away match for Toronto FC. The 300 or so fans who travelled down to New York made themselves heard from the opening whistle, growing louder and more distinct with every Toronto FC goal.
They will surely look to do the same when travelling up the 401 for a derby match against the Montreal Impact in the Conference finals, where this playoff adventure takes Toronto FC next. It promises to be quite the atmosphere, a special day for Canadian soccer, when the two teams meet at Olympic Stadium.
The next stop in Toronto FC’s road to the MLS Cup is where it ended last time, in Montreal during a heartbreaking 3-0 loss in their first ever playoff appearance.
This isn’t the same Toronto FC team, however, they have proven that time and time again this season. When it matters most, as it does right now, they have been playing the best soccer in franchise history.
It will be a chance at revenge, then, that is between them and a first ever MLS Cup final appearance. One thing is for certain, this Toronto FC team is going to be tough to stop.