Toronto FC 2, New York City FC 0 | 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap

With both teams fielding defense-oriented lineups, Toronto FC played New York City FC scoreless for much of Saturday's Eastern Conference Semifinal Leg 1 before Jozy Altidore put home a deflected cross for the winning strike in the 84th minute of an eventual 2-0 victory at BMO Field.

With Andrea Pirlo a late scratch due to a calf injury, NYCFC bunkered into a 3-4-3, creating little offense and escaping several strong Toronto chances during the first hour, with freshly minted 'keeper Eirik Johansen notably stuffing Sebastian Giovinco 1-v-1 in the 12th minute.

The game was hotly contested, with New York City committing a season-high 18 fouls and several calls earning protests from individual players and crowds of them, most prominently a 20th-minute dust-up between David Villa and TFC's Armando Cooper following a contested challenge and an apparent kickout by Villa as the duo went down.

Tosaint Ricketts tapped in his own rebound off a long cross to seal the victory in the second minute of stoppage time.

Box Score

Three Things

It's the little moments from Sebastian Giovinco that truly set him apart. Moves that don't even ultimately go anywhere manage to wreck your brain:

When a guy is capable of multiple plays like that, and also pulls them off in the same game, it changes the way every opposing player thinks. Once that happens, they're not only reacting, but anticipating exponential outcomes on every touch – the death of gameplanning. It's no coincidence his 84th-minute cross ended up sneaking across to Jozy Altidore's foot with nothing but net ahead. Hats off, and here's to the 2nd Leg.
Perhaps the sub was planned, with the return match of a two-legged series scheduled a week from Sunday, but
David Villa
has only been subbed off one other time in regulation in this strong second MLS season. And there's this:

That's, uh … unexpected. But having watched DV throughout this MLS run, I'd bank on an impact at Yankee Stadium.

  • ALL D, (ALMOST) ALL DAY: With Andrea Pirlo out altogether, and Frank Lampard starting the match on the sideline, NYCFC attempted to lock this one down rather than chasing the oft-elusive, but ever-advantageous away goal. With all the offensive talent loaded on TFC's half, New York committed a season-high 19 fouls, including six each against Sebastian Giovinco and Armando Cooper. They earned five yellows for their trouble, which could loom large if they do manage to advance out of this round – accumulation doesn't reset until the MLS Cup Final.

  • They Said It