TORONTO– One of the best teams in Major League Soccer history will have a chance to finish off a fantastic season with a championship and earn revenge at the very same time.
Toronto FC defeated the Columbus Crew, 1-0, on Wednesday at BMO Field to clinch a trip back to MLS Cup, which it will host for the second straight year on Dec. 9.
Jozy Altidore, who missed the first leg due to suspension and was injured in the second half on Wednesday, was the hero for the Reds, as he netted the game-winner in the 60th minute.
Unlike the first leg, the opening half of the second leg was ripe with chances.
Zack Steffen, who has been a stalwart in goal the entire postseason, made sure the game remained scoreless heading into the halftime break, as he made a terrific penalty save on Victor Vazquez.
Vazquez was brought to the spot after Josh Williams was whistled for a foul on Drew Moor in the penalty area.
Steffen, who some see as the answer to the U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeping issue, dove to his right and denied the Spaniard.
Minutes before Steffen’s denial, the Crew had a chance to go ahead on a break down the field, but Justin Meram took an extra touch for some reason and wasted the scoring opportunity.
Although the game went to the half without a goal, the Reds put a wave of pressure on the Crew defense in the final few minutes of the first 45. Luckily for the visitors, lost footing and blocked shots were enough to limit the hosts.
Sixteen minutes into the second half, the crowd at BMO Field started to shake the foundation as Altidore slotted home the game’s first goal into the left side of the net.
Altidore, who was dealing with an ankle injury after a collision with Harrison Afful in the box early in the second half, received a great ball from Victor Vazquez, got past Lalas Abubakar and beat Steffen for his first goal of the postseason.
The USMNT star was forced to depart seven minutes after his strike due to complications with his ankle injury.
The Crew didn’t have a ton of chances to score an equalizer, but the golden one in the 88th minute went painstakingly wide, as Adam Jahn header across goal went through the legs of Ola Kamara.
Toronto awaits the winner of the Western Conference Final between the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup.
Man of the Match
The Toronto FC attack gets a ton of headlines, but the defense led by veteran Drew Moor only gave up one shot on target on Wednesday and four over the 180 minutes in the series.
Moment of the Match
Altidore’s game-winner sent BMO Field into an uproar and it allowed the Reds to have another shot at glory on their home field.
Match to Forget
On a night in which the Crew needed to put pressure on the TFC defense, Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara were largely ineffective.