Toronto miss bye, but happy to have "winning sensation" back for playoffs

TORONTO – Toronto FC did what they had to, and their catalytic playmaker showed signs of his old self. But the Reds didn’t get the help they needed, and so the first-ever playoff match at BMO Field will come sooner rather than later.

Despite TFC's 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire on Decision Day, New York City FC’s victory over Columbus kept the Reds from moving into the second spot in the East, meaning Toronto will host Philadelphia Union in the Knockout Round on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMás, TSN2).

The victory ended a pair of five-match winless runs for the club – both overall and at home.

“[It was] important,” said head coach Greg Vanney post-match. “We knew we were only in control of so much. We wanted to win the game, go into the playoffs with a win, [and] go in scoring some goals, which was nice. Winning is always a positive thing, [it] gives you a good feeling. The play-in game, it's one game, very little margin of error. You've got to be on it on the day, be sharp. It's good to have that confidence and feel that winning sensation again as we go into it.”

Not only did TFC address a lingering blemish, but it did so behind Sebastian Giovinco’s most dominant performance in some time.

Giovinco had not registered an MLS goal in over two months prior to kickoff – his last coming on August 20 in a 3-1 win at the Union. It was a stunning consideration, since his assist last weekend in Montreal made him the first player in MLS history to be involved in 30 or more goals in consecutive seasons.

Giovinco drew TFC level at the stroke of halftime from the penalty spot and then set up the go-ahead goal nine minutes after the restart, bringing down Michael Bradley's pass with his trademark ease and picking out Justin Morrow for a powerful header.

“The feeling of hitting the back of the net is always an important one [for a striker],” noted Vanney. “[Giovinco] got himself into some very good spots. His running was good, was sharp. A couple moments where he brought things down, you could see that little extra that he has. We saw those moments. He's getting to where he needs to be as we approach these big games.”

Ever the perfectionist, Giovinco first highlighted the chances missed.

“There were four [shots] that I didn't get on target; this I'm not happy about,” said Giovinco through his translator. “But I'm happy for the goal, happy for the win. I look to be more precise on Wednesday.”