TORONTO – With the greatest night in club history having just played out on the pitch, there was some concern as two of Toronto FC's most impactful stars in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs appeared to have picked up knocks. But both look like they should be fine at their club's most important upcoming match: the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 10 (8pm ET; FOX, UniMás | TSN, RDS in Canada).
Both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore were involved in a physical night that saw TFC advance to their first ever MLS Cup Final. They managed the feat with an aggregate score of 7-5 in the Eastern Conference Championship, after a thrilling 5-2 Leg Two win over the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night at BMO Field.
Giovinco was forced off the pitch in the 96th minute, following an attempt at goal. He tried to walk off ta knock, getting back to his feet with the support of the crowd, but was unable to continue. He would be replaced by the eventual game-winner, Benoit Cheyrou.
Altidore went the distance for TFC, but was involved in a series of crunching physical battles, most notably with Montreal's Hernan Bernardello in the opening volleys, and with Marco Donadel throughout the 120 minutes. He appeared to jam his shoulder as he landed awkwardly on one play in particular.
Altidore proved once more a force, scoring and assisting as he did in Leg One In fact, Altidore became just the second player in MLS history to score in five consecutive playoff matches. He also has assists in four of those five for good measure.
“He feels great,” said Greg Vanney of Toronto's American striker. “He's flying, he's happy. He's showing what we all know he's capable of. I've always admired his power and strength. As he arrived here last year, I was incredibly surprised at how very good of a finisher he is, how precise he is technically. He is an incredibly well-rounded striker.”
“A lot of the credit goes to him and everybody helping him get into a nice happy place that he can be himself, give everything he has every night," Vanney continued. "And you can see, he's an absolute monster out there. He's unstoppable when he gets going. He's been that for us in the playoffs.”
Giovinco, meanwhile, was held to an assist, as he also was in the first leg, before coming off.
“He was cramping up; it's not much more than that,” said Vanney. “He couldn't get it to go away. So he felt like him cramping on the field was not going to be advantageous at that time in the game. He'll be ready [for Seattle].”
Was Giovinco frustrated? Maybe, but he could see, perhaps, that it was meant to be. “At the end of the day, it was a change that made a big difference," he said. "I'm very happy for Benoit and how the game ended. One last step to go; we think we can surpass it.”
“Cramps are never anything too serious,” he emphasized. “By tomorrow it'll all be normal.”