After nine years, Toronto FC finally hosted a home playoff game on Wednesday, and the raucous BMO Field crowd helped lift the Reds to their first-ever playoff win, a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union in an Eastern Conference Knockout Round match.
Star forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore found the back of the net for TFC, but it was Homegrown product Jonathan Osorio's goal, minutes into the second half, which stood as the game-winner.
Toronto opened the scoring just 15 minutes in, when Union center back Ken Tribbett misplayed a clearance, forcing his own goalkeeper, Andre Blake, into a scramble. Altidore reached the ball first, and his overhead flick fell directly in Giovinco's path, and the Italian's one-timed touch tucked under the bar to open the scoring.
Osorio's 48th-minute goal gave Toronto a 2-0 cushion, but the visitors made some changes and pulled one back on a set piece in the 73rd minute, when Alejandro Bedoya knocked home a ball bouncing between Union players in the box.
Yet Altidore ensured there was no drama, icing the game in the 85th minute off another Tribbett misplay in the box.
Look, Sebastian Giovinco is the reigning MVP. We know he's good. But he truly rose to the moment with that opener. The touch. Phew. It was the continuation of
against Union forces, and the culmination of a stunning run since joining Toronto FC before last season:
He assisted on Osorio's winner, but not Altidore's final score, so the end-game total is 71 of 111 (63.9%). Ridiculous.
BEDOYA AND THE BLAHS:
Philadelphia signing Alejandro Bedoya was supposed to stabilize a squad shaken by the sudden departure of Vincent Nogueira. Then, they struggled for much of the final stretch, and this just happened:
Safe to say that's not the type of half – which included
– Philly was counting on from a player lauded for his efficiency and mistake-free play. Bedoya pulled the Union back into the game and was nearly in position for a second late in the game, but it wasn't a vintage performance from the US national team stalwart.
Sure, TFC finally earned a spot in the Conference Semifinals. But the opposition steps up from a reeling Union to a consistently dangerous, potent New York City FC squad primed to put away goals on the board in an aggregate series.
and Co. are much more likely to finish off any chances, and the Reds will need to be prepared for a more challenging opponent,
one strongly committed
to a single philosophy that carried them past TFC during the regular season.
They Said It
"It was amazing. It almost feels like soccer was reborn again in Toronto."
—Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC foward