Toronto FC confident they'll win second leg of Canadian Championship, raise trophy

MONTREAL – Justin Morrow isn’t worried that his team is down 1-0 to the Montreal Impact after the first leg of the Canadian Championship final. In fact, he remembers how Toronto FC were in a similar situation back in 2016. 

“We look at it like this is only halftime of the match,” the outside back said. “We’ve been in this position before; we were down in 2016 Eastern Conference final to Montreal. We were able to come back at home, so we’re confident.” 

In that 2016 series, the Impact hosted the first leg and were up 3-2 on aggregate after playing at the Olympic Stadium. TFC surged back with a 5-2 win in extra time in the second leg at BMO Field, advancing to the MLS Cup final via a 7-5 aggregate scoreline. 

So far, the difference this year was an Ignacio Piatti long-range strike in the 17th minute, setting up next Wednesday’s (7:30 pm ET | Onesoccer.ca) do-or-die second leg.

TFC captain Michael Bradley wasn’t surprised to see Montreal come out strong following a poor run of form that led to Wilmer Cabrera taking over for Remi Garde as head coach. 

“Things haven’t been perfect for them and we knew that they would be looking to respond,” Bradley said. “They were able to find a little bit of control, but it wasn’t like they were creating a ton of big chances. You got to give credit to Piatti, he scored a great goal.” 

Toronto are in the midst of eight games in just under a month. With a trip to Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC on Saturday (10:30 pm ET | TSN 1/4, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US), head coach Greg Vanney and his squad wished they could have stolen an away goal from the Impact. 

Even after subbing off Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo at halftime, Vanney remains confident his team can pull it off in the return leg.

“We were here wanting to get a goal and we didn’t,” Vanney said. “But I think that 1-0 is something that’s doable, it’s not like they got away from us tonight. So, with 1-0 we go home and we know what the result is that we have to turn around.”

Toronto are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, balancing the pursuit of a fourth straight Canadian Championship title and a spot in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

With that fixture congestion in mind, Vanney said that it was “not entirely likely” but “possible” that some players don’t head to LA this weekend. 

“We want to stay together as a group,” Vanney said. “It doesn’t mean that everybody that goes there is going to play a lot, [but] as a team we’re going to stay together. We’re going to go together, come back together and fight for each one of these games as a team.” 

With a win next Wednesday, Toronto would raise another Voyageurs Cup. Bradley said the team isn’t yet focused on that feat, but rather on winning what's first ahead. 

“In the bigger picture, it’s a nice thing for the club, for the fans,” Bradley said. “But right now we’re concentrating on what is in front of us in this moment."

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