Latest posts by Yusuf Nakhooda (see all)
- Transferring The Confidence On To The Field: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders Preview - December 16, 2017
- How The Rest Of The AL East Should React To The Giancarlo Stanton Trade - December 13, 2017
- The Second time is the charm as Toronto FC wins their first MLS Championship - December 12, 2017
Toronto FC just finds ways to gut out wins. Their amazing season lives for another day as they return to the MLS Cup Final for the second year in a row.
They won by the narrowest of margins, as Jozy Altidore’s second-half goal was enough to top the Columbus Crew 1-0 in a cagey match in which the Supporters’ Shield winner was far from its best.
Toronto were favorites to overturn a scoreless draw against the Crew in the Eastern Conference Championship first leg in Ohio. However, Toronto struggled during Wednesday’s second leg at BMO Field until a hobbled Altidore breathed life into a cautious affair on the hour mark.
Uncharacteristically poor through the opening hour, Victor Vazquez displayed the feathery touch that shredded MLS backlines to bits this season with a perfectly weighted ball to Altidore. All that was left for the United States international was to calmly lift it above the reach of a lunging Zack Steffen.
A team that exhibited football rife with panache on the way to an MLS-record 69 points, Greg Vanney’s men had to rely on more industrious means against a resolute Crew side. Even Altidore – who had to come off with an injured ankle after coming together with Harrison Aful – was not at his best, and the typically lethal attack duo of he and Sebastian Giovinco suffered as the pair failed to get involved in link-up play.
Vazquez was equally as ineffectual over 90 minutes, and his penalty attempt thwarted by Steffen in the opening stanza was emblematic of those struggles.
With a finals return hanging by the narrowest of threads, Toronto was shaky down the stretch, and characteristically clinical Crew striker Ola Kamara should have scored when an incisive ball flashed across the face of goal and beneath the boot of the Norwegian international.
Toronto will face the Western Conference winners, Seattle Sounders in the Finals. The Sounders topped Toronto on penalties in last year’s Final at BMO Field.