Toronto FC clinched the 2017 MLS Supporters' Shield with a frantic, exhilarating, 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field on Saturday night. With the result, Toronto became the first Canadian team to ever hoist the Shield -- and did so with two games remaining in the regular season.
Justin Morrow managed a hat trick and Victor Vazquez scored an 82nd-minute winner from the spot, converting on a penalty drawn by striker Jozy Altidore, who proved excellent in his return from a three-game injury layoff.
It almost didn't end in celebration for the hosts, however, as the visitors temporarily erased a two-goal first half lead, with goals from the Red Bulls' Gonzalo Veron and Daniel Royer on either side of the break. But the home side responded in style -- as they have all season -- and retook the lead moments after New York's equalizer through Vazquez.
The win keeps Toronto alive for more season-long honors, and a chance to make league history as they chase the record for most points in a season, curently held by the 1998 LA Galaxy (68 points). Sitting at 65 points after Saturday's win, two good results on the run-in would make this Toronto team officially the best in league history.
Despite the loss, New York remains in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining to play.
- 32' – TOR – Justin Morrow Watch
- 37' – TOR – Justin Morrow Watch
- 39' – NY – Gonzalo Veron Watch
- 77' – NY – Daniel Royer (PK) Watch
- 80' – TOR – Victor Vazquez Watch
- 90+1' – TOR – Justin Morrow Watch
- THE RECORDS ARE A-FALLIN': Saturday was a huge night for Toronto FC. The win capped the club's best-ever season and first Supporters' Shield. But that's just the icing on the proverbial cake. Sitting on 65 points with two games remaining, one more win will set the post-shootout era record for points in a season at 68. Four points from the remaining two games will see this year's Reds standing alone atop the MLS record books. One win in the final two games will also tie them with the 2014 Sounders for most wins in a season, at 20. For more fun reference points for this historic season, click here. Now, will this finally translate into an MLS Cup?
- WELCOME BACK, JOZY: Saturday was made even better for Toronto thanks to the return of one of the team's two sidelined Designated Players, Jozy Altidore. Altidore, who had missed the previous three games with "lower body soreness," looked phenomenal in his return. He drew the penalty on the winner with a sumptuous turn before he was dragged down, and then set up the clinching fourth goal. All night long he held up play and relieved pressure, delivering a perfect return at the perfect time for Toronto's front man. Hopefully a similar return is pending for Sebastian Giovinco.
- JESSE'S LINEUP MIX-UP ALMOST PAYS OFF: The Red Bulls have had a busy past two weeks, with a US Open Cup final and three regular season matches in a 10-day span. That congestion forced Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch into five changes from the team that drew D.C. United mid-week. Absent at the start were Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips (though both entered in the second half). Instead, Marsch started four Homegrown Players in one of the season's biggest matches. And for much of the night the strategy worked well. Tyler Adams continued to show he is one of the league's rising stars, and the Red Bulls were competitive, even finding themselves level after Daniel Royer's 77th-minute equalizer. The experience will be important for New York's emerging young core, but in the end, it's more points dropped at a crucial time of the season, as the Red Bulls hover just above the playoff line with three games left in their regular season.