Historic night for TFC

on October 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

Despite the chill in the October air, BMO Place was as warm and comforting as home should be for Toronto FC. After a decade of futility, all demons have finally been exorcized as they soundly defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-1 to win their very first playoff game. It was a completely different first half compared to the debacle that occurred last year in Montreal when they were down 3-0 before they even knew what hit them. This year’s edition of Toronto FC however, was ready and so were there fans. The long time, faithful and loud supporters added to the atmosphere and provide the energy needed for the Red 11 as they out worked and out played there opponent. The Reds didn’t just withstand the pace of what MLS Playoff soccer should be, they created it.  It wasn’t a perfect game as the team did fall into a lull after their second goal, but the game was rarely, if ever in doubt and should help build confidence heading into the weekend.

I’ve said before that TFC will only go as far as Giovinco could carry them and he did not disappoint this time around. He opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a deft touch into the back of the net. Then added an assist on Jonathan Osorio’s goal and was a key cog in Jozy Altidore’s clincher. The little dynamo continues to impress with his skill, vision and competiveness. When a major signing like this occur, you always wonder how much does it really mean for these stars to win or are they here just for a paycheque. There is no doubt with the Atomic Ant as he continues to give it everything he has. Well, maybe not everything… if there is criticism to be made, and there is, someone needs to sit down with him and tell him how to properly bang a drum for that Icelandic chant as he was pretty horrible at that. There, for those that think I don’t criticize Seba enough, I hope you’re satisfied.

As much as Giovinco was involved offensively, it was his partner Jozy Altidore who I felt deserved most of the credit for the win. We know Altidore is a skilled player and that is a reason why he is a designated player, but up until the last few months, injuries and slumps made him look ordinary. His confidence of late has skyrocketed and it isn’t just his goal scoring that is impressive but how he uses his size and physicality all over the pitch that stands out. While the score was 2-1 and fans held their breath, it was Altidore who came back to his own half of the field to manhandle a Union player and take the ball away from him. He then set Giovinco forward with a long pass and then ran 50 yards into the box. Giovinco’s pass was not on target, but Altidore’s presence had defenceman Tribbett make a second massive mistake allowing Altidore to score TFC’s 3rd goal and seal the match. I can’t begin to describe how fantastic it is when your three designated players are also your three hardest working players. It sends a message to the entire team and the team is so much better for it.

Speaking of better, TFC’s next opponent New York City FC is much better than Philadelphia. This will be an extremely tough home-and-home series as NYCFC led the league in scoring behind International superstars David Villa and Giovinco’s former Juventus teammate, Andrea Pirlo. Clint Irwin and the backline will have to be sharp constantly because this team knows how to capitalize on mistakes. They played twice this season with each game ending in a tie, but those were over 5 months ago and neither team is quite the same. Both times TFC had to come from behind to win, which should give them confidence if they fall behind, but fans must remember that this isn’t a “best of” playoff series that we are accustomed too in North America. Goal differential is a huge factor, especially away goals, so it is mightily important that they keep a clean sheet on Sunday, before heading to New York the following week.

They say in the playoffs that defence wins. Therefore as long as the pressure doesn’t get to them, I say that the best defence in the East (TFC), with a win and a draw, will beat out the best offence in the East. I mean, if both the Raptors and the Jays lost in the Conference Finals, it would be a shame for TFC not to make it that far as well… before they lose too. #TooSoon?

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