Toronto FC made their way into the Bronx Wednesday evening for a much anticipated Eastern Semifinals rematch that saw the Reds embarrass NYCFC 7-0 on aggregate in the two game set.
Both sides seemed eager to get out on the pitch Wednesday evening after a long international break put the MLS season on pause for approximately two weeks. However this break had been extended for two critical players on Toronto, both Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley were still on international duty playing for the United States National Team.
The two Toronto FC starters were about 100 miles away from their MLS club, helping the national team advance to the Gold Cup semi-final with a 2-0 victory over El Salvador in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Toronto FC proved they would not feel sorry for themselves with the absence of their two stars as they struck first in the match. A beautiful one time volley off the foot of Ashtone Morgan beat NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson to put Toronto ahead early and Morgan into the record books with his first ever MLS goal.
Just before the halftime whistle, David Villa was able to sneak a goal into the back of the net to level the score at one a piece at half.
Toronto had seemed to get off to a great start in the second half as a weak pass by the NYC defense was intercepted and quickly turned into a counter attack. Four minutes into the half Toronto had found the back of the net with what seemed like Jay Chapman’s first MLS goal.
The goal was originally considered onside, however after a quick discussion between the head referee and the linesman the goal was denied and deemed offside. The call could easily have been debated and was discussed too harshly by Reds manager Greg Vanney who was sent off after comments to referees.
This debatable call would cause a huge momentum swing as six minutes later it was Villa again stirring up trouble for the Toronto defense. His wonderful run into the box ended with a Maxi Moralez shot that deflected off of a defender, over the head on Bono on goal and into the net for a 2-1 NYC lead.
Toronto, trailing on the road without two of their starters before the match, then losing their manager Vanney and star forward Sebastian Giovinco early in the match with a back bruise seemed destined for an unfavorable result.
Good teams remain unflustered in these tough situations and Toronto proved they are among the best in the league with a strong performance to end the match. Rather than give up, the Reds pushed on and with only minutes before the final whistle Jordan Hamilton found himself in the box with the ball and was wrapped up in the box by RJ Allen causing the referee to award a penalty.
Calm, cool, and collected, Victor Vasquez delivered the equalizer kissing the ball off the post and into the net.
After the tough result NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira remained positive saying, “I am pleased with this result. I think they [Toronto] showed just how good they are.” Vieira took this match as a learning experience saying, “There is a lot of work for us to do to if we want to compete with the best in the league [referring to Toronto].”
Vieira showing much respect to a club that destroyed his side last year in the playoffs spoke on Toronto FC constantly mentioning they have one of the strongest if not the strongest roster in the league. They most definitely showed their ability and depth today with an away draw with three of their best players and manager being non-factors in the match.
NYCFC continue their home stand Saturday against the only team ahead of both them and Toronto in the Eastern Conference Standings, the Chicago Fire.