For Toronto Football Club (TFC), this has been a playoff run full of firsts: first postseason home game — check; first postseason win — check; first Eastern Conference Semifinal win and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals — yeah, you can check that off too.
The road to redemption
On October 26, after nine long years, suffering TFC fans were finally able to cheer for a championship contending team. The Reds beat Philadelphia Union handily, by a score of 3–1 thanks to goals from Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio, and Jozy Altidore. With this win, TFC advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Toronto FC faced New York City FC in the semis. And again they won, beating the second seeded team 2–0 at BMO Field. TFC took a 2–0 aggregate lead with them to Yankee Stadium for the second leg of the matchup. On November 6, TFC slaughtered New York 5–0, paving their way to Montreal and the conference finals.
Montreal, here we come
TFC hold home field advantage for the series, and they will travel to Montreal to face the Impact on November 22 to start the series. These two teams have a history though, and this series will surely be the most heated games of their rivalry to date.
It seems fitting that TFC will play the Impact for a chance to go to the League Championships, because the Impact were the team that — quickly and succinctly — ended the former’s postseason run last year. In the teams’ three regular season matchups this year, there was almost nothing to split the two sides: both teams won a game, lost a game, and tied a game with the TFC holding a slight offensive edge, scoring four goals whilst conceding just three overall.
The playoffs, of course, are another story entirely. TFC has scored 10 goals in three games, conceding only one; they are playing, arguably, the best soccer in team history. Montreal is looking good too. They have found the back of the net seven times in three games and have given up three goals. Game two of the series will be played at BMO on November 30. Kick-off is at 7:00 pm.
Players without accolades
On November 1, Major League Soccer (MLS) announced the finalists for the league’s MVP awards. Despite scoring 17 goals and 15 assists in only 28 games, TFC star forward Sebastian Giovinco was not one of the finalists.
Giovinco had more combined goals than all of the nominees in fewer games played and is the reigning MLS MVP. He was robbed of the chance to be the first player in league history to win back-to-back MVP honours and would have only been the second to win it twice.
Whether or not Giovinco was fuelled by the snub is unknown, but he certainly played like he had something to prove; he wanted to showcase what a true MVP does: take the game by the throat. Giovinco scored a hat trick and assisted another goal, contributing to four of the five goals Toronto scored against New York.
Giovinco has been sensational throughout his tenure at Toronto, scoring a combined 70 goals and assists in 61 regular season games. In the playoffs this year, he’s taken his game and his team to another level entirely. In three playoff games, he has four goals and two assists — a remarkable output that has been instrumental to the team’s playoff success.