Toronto FC survive the surge of the Red Bulls

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Jozy Altidore
TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Jozy Altidore /

Toronto FC had the advantage on the New York Red Bulls heading back to BMO Field with two away goals and it was just enough to get them through.

Two away goals to bring back to a wild Toronto crowd meant an almost guarantee victory for Toronto FC. However, that guarantee was put to the test, in one of the most bizarre, controversial occasions ever seen at BMO Field.

A strike from midfield from the feet of Daniel Royer put the Reds on their heels. An ugly contest saw TFC barely use their momentum to survive the surge of the New York Red Bulls, advancing on the away goals rule, 2-2.

Starting XI

Match Recap

The Red Bulls really applied the pressure to Toronto early on, winning two corners in just a span of two minutes. Both teams played higher on the pitch, but it was New York that seemed to do more with possession.

Toronto FC, though, would do a very good job hitting the Bulls on the counter. The 10th minute saw Jozy Altidore accept a pass as he was sprinting down the wing. Altidore put a move on the defender, but his low shot went wide.

Victor Vazquez would send a low cross towards Sebastian Giovinco just three minutes later. The cross took a couple of deflections which resulted in the Atomic Ant not being able to control the ball cleanly. Best TFC chance so far.

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The official made some rather questionable decisions, which had a huge impact on the flow of the contest. Giovinco eventually got taken down in the box in the 23rd minute, but the ref felt as if the New York defender was going for the ball.

Play started to heat up very quickly at BMO Field. United States teammates Sacha Kljestan and Altidore got into an exchange in the midfield. Both got up in each others face, which led to Kljestan pushing Altidore. The striker exaggerated the push from the New York skipper, as Kljestan looked to barely touch him.

Giovinco would get another chance right before the end of the half as he raced onto a ball from Vazquez, but his shot came at a difficult angle which allowed Luis Robles to gobble it up.

After half time, both teams came out with 10 men. The Altidore and Kljestan confrontation from moments earlier arose again, this time in the tunnel. TFC coach Greg Vanney claimed Sacha instigated Altidore by attacking him while he wasn’t looking.

CBC noted how annoyed Vanney was with the visitors. Regardless, both men were shown a red and Toronto FC will go into the next leg without their prized striker:

"“The game just became a little bit about soccer and a lot about nonsense,” Vanney said. “And that’s irritating for, I’m sure, spectators, it’s irritating for coaches, players and it’s irritating for just what our league’s supposed to be about.”"

The breakthrough came from New York in the 54th minute, as Royer took a pass from Aaron Long. Royer elected to take a shot from the midfield, which deflected off of a duo of players to beat Alex Bono to the bottom right. Very fortunate for the Red Bulls, and they were right back into the tie.

Bono would save the Reds from catastrophe again in the 63rd minute. Bradley Wright-Phillips got sent into the box and was one-on-one with Bono, but the American keeper stuck out his leg to deny the Red Bulls’ striker. Likely a candidate for Save of the Year.

Toronto FC came right back in the 78th minute as Giovinco did his magic in the box and eventually sent a cross towards Jonathan Osorio who put the ball in the net. But, the goal was called back for offsides.

Vazquez would take a free-kick in stoppage time that beat Robles again, but the referee Penso called it back. I can’t figure out why the goal was not allowed; it appeared as if the referee had signaled that they weren’t ready. Safe to say, the officiating was very poor in this one.

Luckily, TFC would survive and move on to the next round of the MLS Playoffs after winning on aggregate.

Sloppy Performance

It would’ve been a very disappointing end to a historic season if the Reds lost this fixture. The fans looked as if they were going to be let down by what was a very sloppy contest.

The decisions made by the officiating crew weren’t the best, but neither was the discipline from Toronto FC. The impact Altidore has on this team is indescribable, and now the striker will not be available for a crucial first leg in the next tie.

Giovinco was shown a second yellow card in the leg which means he will also sit for the first match of the East final. He received the booking after arguing a call with a referee in frustration, and that now puts the Reds in a tough spot going forward.

TFC did move on, but fans are only left to wonder how their club will perform in the next round after this display at BMO Field?

Next Match

The Reds will take on what should be a very motivated and dangerous Columbus Crew side in the next tie. The first leg will be on Nov. 21, while the second leg will be on the 29th. Get coverage for everything Toronto FC right here on Tip of the Tower.

Next: Who is Travaris Cadet?

What are your thoughts on the match and the incident? Are you frustrated with the display, or just happy that TFC are into the next round? Let us know in the comments below.