Toronto FC has finally figured out how to make their road matches boring. After nearly a decade of frantic, often disastrous road performances, that will suit their fans just fine.
Tonight's 0-0 draw in Montreal earned Toronto FC a berth in the Voyageurs Cup final. They beat the Montreal Impact 4-2 on aggregate and now have a chance to win their first Canadian Championship since 2012.
While it was the club's offence that got the job done in the first leg at BMO Field, it was a solid defensive effort today as Toronto FC succeeded in maintaining their lead. It was the best all round performance Toronto FC has managed defensively since a visit to Montreal earlier in the year when the also shut out the Impact.
Most importantly, Didier Drogba was rendered a non-factor today as a result of a very good by committee effort from the backline. Instead, it was Michael Salazar who had most of the Impact chances, and who evidently failed to make good on any of them.
The match was also a good exhibition of the club's defensive depth. For the second straight match, Eriq Zavaleta was incredibly solid in the centre of defence. He and Drew Moor did an excellent job of containing Drogba, and Zavaleta may well provide another option for Toronto FC going forward.
Ashtone Morgan was also crucial in defending against Drogba, as he took the Ivory Coast striker off the ball on several occasions. In the past two matches, Morgan has looked much more capable in his natural left back position than he has in the midfield when Greg Vanney has played him there at times this season.
Toronto FC's best play during the match, however, came from the central midfield. Will Johnson, returning from a hip injury to the starting lineup, combined perfectly with Benoit Cheyrou to frustrate the Montreal Impact attackers. Cheyrou, who has missed most of this season with injury, was Toronto's best player over the two legs.
Johnson, as he often does, spent the match getting under the skin of the Montreal midfield. That boiled over in the 59th minute after he yelled something into the ear of Montreal Impact designated player Lucas Ontivero. Ontivero subsequently headbutted Johnson and was given a red card.
It was the culmination of what was a disappointing semi-final for the Montreal Impact. Arguably, they had the better set of circumstances coming into this competition, as all three of their designated players were available for both matches.
However, the Impact would shoot themselves in the foot by playing two lethargic legs. They would make things even easier for Toronto FC by taking red cards in both matches, as Patrice Bernier was also sent off in the first half of the match last Wednesday in Toronto.
Toronto FC will still be taking the positives out of their pair of Voyageurs Cup performances, and there are many. First and foremost, the club's attack appears to be rounding back into form. Sure, Toronto FC didn't score tonight, but that wasn't their aim and both Mo Babouli and Jordan Hamilton still played very well. Vanney says that the later has earned himself more time on the field after a pair of inspired performances.
Sebastian Giovinco also returned to the fold off the bench and created two good chances at the end of the match. Toronto FC should have him back in the starting lineup when they play the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 18.
The following Wednesday, they will take on the Vancouver Whitecaps at home in the first leg of the Voyageurs Cup final. Toronto FC will have a chance to win their first major silverware in four years.