TORONTO - At the end of Toronto FC’s first home playoff match—a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union—the home players ran over to the club’s supporters section and clapped in unison with their drumming. Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin didn’t make his players remain on the pitch for the celebration, but Alejandro Bedoya took in the scene anyways.
“I stayed after the game to try and soak it all in,” the Union midfielder said after the match. “This atmosphere is a sign of how far the league has come.”
Even in defeat, there were positives for Bedoya to take away from his first Audi MLS Cup Playoff match and league season. Most obviously, he scored the Union’s solitary goal by nipping onto a loose ball in the 73rd minute and smashing it past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin. At that point, Philadelphia only trailed 2-1.
“It was off a corner and I was opportunistic,” he said, later adding that the team had talked about Toronto’s difficulties defending set pieces. “In my mind, there was no doubt we’d get a couple more looks,” the US national teamer said.
Indeed, in the minutes after Bedoya’s goal, his team was on the ascendancy. Bedoya ran across the pitch to harry Toronto FC players off the ball. He was far more visible than in a largely anonymous first half that was capped off by a 43rd minute yellow card. For perhaps the first time since the game’s opening exchanges, the Union was dictating the pace of the game, and Bedoya was now at the centre of the action.
Then Jozy Altidore scored to double Toronto’s lead with only five minutes left in the game. 3-1. That, Bedoya conceded, “takes the air out of the game.”
After the final whistle and Toronto’s celebration, Bedoya struggled to assess his abbreviated MLS season. He had ended the season with two goals to his credit, but admitted that he had not had time to reach 100 percent fitness and spoke of the benefits that would come from sharing preseason preparations with his teammates.
None of that, however, could distract from the sense that an opportunity had been missed. Toronto FC, as Bedoya had seen firsthand, got to celebrate a playoff win; the Union’s season was over.
After most of his Union teammates had exited the BMO Field locker rooms, a quiet Bedoya was left to conclude: “I thought we could have done more.”