In a season full of firsts, Toronto FC have now officially made it to very the end. With a 5-2 victory at home on Wednesday night, the Reds march into the MLS Cup final, which will be played at BMO Field. In the biggest game in TFC history, with over 1.4 million people tuning in across Canada, the boys did not disappoint and took fans on a 120-minute rollercoaster ride of emotions.
The game began with the Montreal Impact’s Dominic Oduro scoring in the 24th minute, stunning the sold-out crowd. But they didn’t stay quiet for long and the team’s 12th man bounced back with a boisterous chant.
Armando Cooper scored in the 37th minute off a set piece, which rebounded off of an Impact defender after a Nick Hagglund header. Cooper made no mistake from close range, sliding the ball past Montreal’s Evan Bush.
Then, just before half-time, two of Toronto’s designated players made magic. Giovinco, walking over to take a corner kick, grabbed Jozy Altidore and whispered into his ear. Altidore then headed straight for the near post, where Giovinco placed the ball perfectly onto his head for him to deflect into the bottom-left corner, putting Toronto FC in the driver’s seat at half-time.
In the second half, the Impact took control, with Ignacio Piatti tying the game by squeaking a goal in past Clint Irwin. With Toronto FC falling behind on aggregate, they were in desperate need of a goal to send the game to extra time. They found it thanks to a cast of unlikely heroes who stepped up for the Reds to get the job done.
Hagglund is not even close to being the highest-paid player on the team, earning an annual salary of $63,000. He earned every single cent of it on Wednesday night. Toronto FC’s ever so deadly wing-back, Justin Morrow, set up the play up, crossing the ball into the box where Hagglund rose and directed the ball into bottom-left corner. It was a thing of beauty and BMO Field absolutely erupted, sending the game into extra time.
Giovinco limped off early in the additional minutes, so Greg Vanney put in Benoit Cheyrou as his replacement. With his first touch, Cheyrou dealt Montreal their back-breaker. Steven Beitashour delivered a cross and Cheyrou did the rest, writing himself into club history in the 98th minute.
The pouring rain only added to the atmosphere and represented the perseverance and never-say-die attitude that Toronto showed. Two minutes later, super-sub Tosaint Ricketts put the icing on the cake and Toronto knew at that moment that they were going to the MLS Cup final.
To end the night, Toronto FC lifted the trophy for their Eastern Conference championship and celebrated on the pitch to conclude what can only be described as a match full of madness, twists, turns and, ultimately, triumph.
This year has undeniably been the most storied season in Toronto FC history. Achievements that once seemed farfetched have become a reality. Toronto now has the chance to write their final chapter on December 10 at BMO Field.
Here are the best 60 photos from the match by Waking the Red photographer Luke Galati.