It may have been -10 degrees, but Sebastian Giovinco is still hot. Toronto FC marched into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday, and they emerged 2-0 victors over the Colorado Rapids from the CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 opener.
The Reds now head home with a hefty two-goal lead, and they’ll hope to see things out in the return leg next Tuesday at BMO Field.
The game was slow and clumsy at times, with a few players noticeably off the pace in the adverse conditions. After the first half, despite a couple of promising moments, TFC’s attack seemed a little stunted in the final third.
That trend continued to begin the second half, as Giovinco continued to serve through balls on a silver platter but his teammates struggled to finish. Ten minutes into the second frame, though, things began to click. Jozy Altidore fed a pass deep into the 18-yard box for Seba, who picked out Jonathan Osorio at the back post perfectly.
Osorio’s headed goal opened TFC’s 2018 account, and it calmed a lot of the nerves beginning to build up among Toronto fans. It was a well-deserved marker, too, as Osorio picked up right where he left off from the MLS Cup Final as one of the Reds’ most energetic players.
The Reds added their second goal just under 20 minutes later. Debutant Auro turned on the jets to save a rolling ball at the byline, and he crossed it into the box where it fell perfectly for Giovinco. Seba volleyed the ball almost lazily into the bottom corner, putting the Reds firmly in the driver’s seat in this tie.
Auro looked good in his first game for TFC, seemingly eager to get up in the attack. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do when Gregory van der Wiel takes over the defensive duties on that side.
My man of the match, though, would be Giovinco; his preseason goalscoring has carried over into competitive play, and at times he looked months ahead of everyone else on the pitch in terms of fitness. On the scoresheet, he comes away with a goal and an assist.
His passing was a lot more on-point than Victor Vazquez or Michael Bradley’s, for the most part, and he seemed to do well in a role where he drops deep to create some extra space for himself.
Ultimately, the Reds come out of this with as good a result as they could’ve hoped for. Frankly, even a 0-0 draw would’ve been fine considering the conditions. Instead, the MLS champions answered the bell and then some.
There’s no scenario where TFC would win this tie on away goals, so that specific factor doesn’t really matter. Still, this is an extremely comfortable lead heading into the game next Tuesday at BMO.