TORONTO — A first-half strike by Robert Earnshaw was enough to see Toronto FC dispatch a desperate Montreal Impact side by a 1-0 margin on a cold, soggy Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.
TFC opened the scoring in the 16th minute when a lucky bounce allowed midfielder Jonathan Osorio to unleash a shot in the Impact penalty box that Earnshaw redirected past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Toronto were worthy winners and had multiple chances to increase their lead during the first half. The first arrived via another fortuitous bounce in the 33rd minute that enabled Earnshaw and Bright Dike to go in alone on Perkins. However, the two TFC strikers got in each other’s way and the Impact 'keeper blocked Earnshaw’s shot.
Osorio then tested Perkins again less than a minute later, with a diving Perkins just pushing away a shot destined for the bottom left corner.
TFC rookie midfielder Kyle Bekker came close to his first MLS goal in the 38th minute when he hammered a shot off the crossbar. Earnshaw almost grabbed his second of the game less than five minutes later when Perkins tipped his shot over the crossbar.
The crossbar continued to be Montreal’s best friend when the second half kicked off, with Reds captain Steven Caldwell seeing his 46th minute header beat Perkins but not the woodwork.
Montreal picked up their first shot on target on the 53rd minute when a nice flick-on by Marco Di Vaio sent midfielder Davy Arnaud in alone on the TFC net, with TFC keeper Joe Bendik coming up big to stone the Impact captain.
The Impact looked like they'd found an equalizer in the 61st minute when Andrew Wenger’s cross found its way into the back of the TFC net. However, the referee called Marco Di Vaio for a hand ball and the league's co-leading scorer was denied his 21st goal of the season.
Montreal came close again in the 72nd minute when Wenger had a glorious chance from just outside the six-yard box but could not direct his shot on target.
Impact midfielder Hernan Bernardello kept Montreal in the game in the 81st minute when he cleared a shot from Caldwell off the line after a scramble in the Montreal box following a corner kick.
Montreal substitute Andres Romero looked like he was going to pot a late one for the visiting team, but Bendik came up with another game-saving block to punctuate what has been a breakthrough campaign for the Toronto 'keeper.
With the victory, Toronto ended their season on a high note at home and earned a measure of revenge against the club that usurped them as Canadian champions earlier in the campaign.
With the loss, Montreal missed out on an opportunity to control their own MLS playoff destiny; they will now have to wait to see how Houston, Chicago and New England make out on Sunday before they will know if they have secured a postseason place in their second year in MLS.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jonathan Osorio||Ran circles around the Impact's veteran internationals. Assisted on the game-winner and set up several more inviting chances to boot.|
|2||Bright Dike||Impressive performance from the big striker; Montreal's rickety back line had no answer for his speed and power.|
|3||Justin Mapp||One of the few visitors who gave a good account of himself, as he conjured up a range of opportunities for his wasteful teammates.|