After defeating the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Sunday, Toronto FC have clinched third place in the MLS East. With it comes a bit of historical significance as the Reds will host a playoff game for the very first time this Wednesday, October 26 at 7:30pm at BMO Field. I am sure they would like to double the importance of that night, by also making it the first victorious playoff game in this franchise’s history as well.
Standing in their way will be sixth place Philadelphia Union who they have played twice this season. TFC won the first contest 3-1 in Philadelphia where they put together one of their best victories of the season. Giovinco, Moore and Altidore each scored highlight reel goals and apart from their common post goal let down, the defence was solid. It was a different story however when they played in the 6ix. It ended in a 1-1 tie with the Reds clamouring for a late penalty shot that was never given. Whether it was a penalty or not (hate to say it, but I don’t think it was) the players were besides themselves in anger. Truth be told, they should have been more upset with their back line as the Union kept finding spots behind them leading to the goal and some excellent scoring chances. You would think that the team that allowed the fewest goals in the East was a solid defensive team and therefore no need to worry. Well, their stats are one thing, but I still lack confidence as they have a penchant for giving up goals right after they score that feels just like a wrecking ball smashing everyone’s emotional psyche. For the back line to have a solid game they need to keep Chris Pontius in check as he is Philadelphia’s biggest threat leading his team with 12 goals and 18 points this season.
If Clint Irwin and the boys can handle their side of the pitch, then I will venture to say that Giovinco, Altidore and possibly Rickets can certainly handle the other. When the Atomic Ant returned from injury it was important to get him into a game right away as it can take some time to get into game shape. When you are dealing with a talent such as Giovinco, it is even more important because it takes time to get that wonderful touch, when either shooting or passing, after a significant layoff. In the final game of the season against the Fire, his ability to draw fouls and his beautiful touch had him earn a goal and an assist to once again top TFC. Seba’s 17 goals and 32 points had him leading the team again this year and there really is no point in hiding the fact that this team will only go as far as the 5’ 4” Italian will take them. For the first time in my life I actually wish there was another game left in the season (seasons are way too long) to give the offence more time to gel again as they did during their seven game unbeaten streak.
Thankfully though, they are not facing a hot DC United team. DC not only had a similar unbeaten streak near the end of the season, but they also beat Toronto during that stretch. United (who finished fourth) will host the fifth place Montreal Impact on Thursday. Waiting in the wings are both New York teams as they get a bye this round before hosting the winners.
Now Philadelphia is on a bit of a streak themselves (only 2 ties in their last 7 matches, but one of those ties was against the Reds. All in all, when you add in close to 30,000 screaming fans, this is a game that TFC should win and win convincingly. Having said that, I believe we thought the same thing about the Blue Jays and look what heartache followed.
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