This one was destined for extra time.
A fierce 401 rivalry, a rain-soaked second leg and a whipsaw series of scores – Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact set an MLS record for a two-game aggregate series, with 12 goals – finally crescendoed with Toronto FC scoring twice in the first 10 minutes of extra time to reach MLS Cup 2016.
Following Wednesday's wild 5-2 Leg 2 victory – and 7-5 aggregate win – TFC will host Seattle Sounders FC on Dec. 10 (8pm ET; FOX, UniMás | TSN, RDS in Canada) at BMO Field. It will be the first appearance in the domestic final for each team: Toronto entered the league in 2007; Seattle followed in 2009. It will also mark the first time an MLS original franchise will not compete for MLS Cup.
Opportunity offered one of TFC's subs the chance to star, when a calf cramp sent Sebastian Giovinco to the sidelines in the 97th minute. Benoit Cheyrou stepped on the field and headed home the series-winning goal in the 98th. Tosaint Ricketts sealed it two minutes after that, following an astounding hold-up effort by Jozy Altidore.
The Impact broke through first, absorbing waves of pressure to convert a perfectly played counter. Patrice Bernier won a 50-50 ball, hit Matteo Mancosu upfield in space, where the Italian striker drove at the back line, finding a pocket between five defenders to slip a ball through to Dominic Oduro, whose cool finish put Toronto on its heels.
But in the 37th minute, Sebastian Giovinco put a corner kick on Nick Hagglund's head. And though Impact defender Hernan Bernardello cleared it off the line, Armando Cooper was there to gather and put the rebound past goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Just before the half, Altidore and Giovinco freelanced – chatting and then changing a corner kick call – resulting in a low line drive that Altidore angled past Bush with a full-speed header as he crossed in front of Mancosu.
Montreal stunned the home crowd early in the second half, when halftime sub Johan Venegas hit star midfielder Ignacio Piatti as he split the defense. Piatti angled a shot to the right, but it deflected off a TFC defender, catching Clint Irwin wrong-footed as the ball trickled across the goal line for an equalizer.
A short corner give-and-go from Cooper to Justin Morrow and back set up a Hagglund header that again put Toronto ahead, and locked the aggregate score at 5, forcing extra time.
- Analyst: Toronto nearly let it slip in epic series
- Ratings: Jozy Altidore, substitutes carry the day for Toronto FC
- TOR: MLS Cup-bound Toronto FC "so happy for the fans, for the city"
- TOR: Altidore, Giovinco shine for TFC, should be fine for Cup
- TOR: Toronto FC reflect on a wild Leg Two ride: 'It was a crazy match'
- MTL: Montreal Impact leave Toronto with heads held high, vow they'll be back
- MTL: Impact's playoff run undone by Toronto FC's set piece savvy
- 24' – MTL – Dominic Oduro (Matteo Mancosu)
- 37' – TOR – Armando Cooper
- 45' – TOR – Jozy Altidore (Sebastian Giovinco)
- 53' – MTL – Ignacio Piatti (Johan Venegas)
- 68' – TOR – Nick Hagglund (Justin Morrow)
- 98' – TOR – Benoit Cheyrou (Steven Beitashour)
- 100' – TOR – Tosaint Ricketts (Jozy Altidore)
- Full Box Score
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- … PHEW! That escalated quickly. A two-leg series MLS-record 12 goals, Toronto finding all kinds of answers for aggregate deficits. Starring roles we didn't expect. I mean, come on – literally no one thought it would take Benoit Cheyrou 92 seconds to go from bench afterthought to never have to worry about buying a drink anywhere in the 6. Seriously. That's a thing that happened:
- JOZY. JOZY! JOZYYYY!! The stats are strong here – first player with goals in five straight postseason games during a single postseason – but first this:
And then this:
The finesse. The #beastmode hold-up play. HOW IS THAT THE SAME SOCCER HUMAN?!!!??!?!
- THERE AND BACK AGAIN: Nick Hagglund nearly opened the scoring for TFC (Cooper's putback followed his header), then deflected Piatti's second-half strike – one that put Montreal back ahead on aggregate – aaaaand then did finish a header to force extra time. Whatta day for that
They Said It
- TOR: MLS Cup 2016 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (Saturday 12/10, 8pm ET; FOX, UniMás | TSN, RDS in Canada)