Frank Sinatra would have us believe that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. I’m not sure if the math checks out, but Toronto FC will certainly be hoping it rings true.
Toronto beat the regular season leaders in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC, for the third straight time in playoff history, and have moved on to their third Eastern Conference Final in four years.
The heroics in this one came late again, but this time it was Alejandro Pozuelo who took the curtain call.
Pozuelo converted a 90th-minute penalty (his 14th goal on the season) in the same manner in which he scored his first — a Paneka right down the middle to befuddle a diving Sean Johnson.
Here are some more intriguing numbers to give Wednesday’s historic victory some additional context.
Justin Morrow started his 200th competitive match for the team, becoming the first player to reach the plateau.
The victory also saw the club run their unbeaten run in league play to an unprecedented 12 matches.
Tonight was @Pozuelo_10 76th competitive match of his “season” which is a match every 5.97 days for 15 months @TorontoFC #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/DYY2hr9294— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 24, 2019
The night’s hero was playing in his 76th match since he began his uninterrupted play in Europe last summer — averaging a game every 5.97 days.
Tonight @Pozuelo_10 became the 3rd @TorontoFC player with 4 multi goal games in the same year (5th occurrence) #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/x5IVa9b5Cf— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 24, 2019
Pozuelo, who also scored the club’s opening goal of the night when a fortuitous string of headers lead to an open chance, became just the third TFC player to have four multi-goal matches in the same MLS season (including playoffs).
He also became just the fifth Red to have four or more multi-goal matches in his time with the club (in all competitions).
Since Will Johnson scored to win the 2016 @VoyageursCup there have been 49 goals scored in 90th minute and beyond - @TorontoFC have scored 36 of them (73%) and only conceded 13 #RIPTobias #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/aXOOzSM5sd— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 24, 2019
Late match heroics have become somewhat of a regular occurrence for the club. Of the last 49 goals scored in the 90th minute and beyond, 36 of them have been scored by TFC, and only 13 by their opponents.
Pozuelo also became the first TFC player in history to score 6 PK goals in the same year...
It was the fourth time @Pozuelo_10 faced Sean Johnson from the spot this year, and his 3rd goal - both head to head records for @TorontoFC #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/Jo6tC0C3Cy— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 24, 2019
... with half of those goals have coming at Sean Johnson’s expense (in 3 separate matches)...
...and Pozuelo now has the best conversion rate by any Red with more than two attempts.
A couple more milestones to watch out for: Pozuelo’s next goal will make him just the fifth Red to score 15 goals in a year...
...while Quentin Westberg can join some sturdy company if he wins the next two matches of the playoffs...
...and Greg Vanney is two wins short of a century with potentially two matches left in this season.
Wednesday’s victory at Citi Field was historic, but just wait ‘till you see what’s at stake against Atlanta... keep an eye out!