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Toronto FC tops New York City FC 2-0 after first leg of semi-final

Toronto FC tops New York City FC 2-0 after first leg of semi-final

Posted by PanamericanWorld on October 31, 2016

BMO Field vibrated — with a mix of excitement and relief — when Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore scored a late goal in Sunday’s first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal against New York City FC, on the way to a 2-0 victory.

Toronto FC had pressed the match for the entire second half, coming up with chance after chance against a visiting team that seemed happy to sit back and absorb the attack.

It looked like the Reds would have to settle for a scoreless draw until Altidore slammed home a tap-in at the back post. The near-sellout crowd erupted.

“It was, for me, far and away the greatest night in the stadium in terms of the fans and the crowd and the energy,” coach Greg Vanney said following the match.

Minutes after Altidore’s marker, the 28,220-strong gathering erupted again when substitute Tosaint Ricketts, who assisted on the ice-breaker with his first touches of the match, doubled the lead in injury time.

The win and the clean sheet put the Reds in the driver’s seat heading into next Sunday’s return leg at Yankee Stadium. New York City coach Patrick Vieira admitted Toronto’s two-goal lead would make it very difficult for his team to stage a comeback.

Vanney credited his team for giving everything it had in the Reds’ third game in the span of a week. Right off the bat, he said, the contest had a clear playoff edge: “It’s two teams that care, and two teams that want to win this tie and move on.”

In a testy affair, the teams combined for 19 fouls in the first half. There were more dustups than scoring chances.

The most talked about confrontation came between New York City striker David Villa and Toronto FC midfielder Armando Cooper. The New York City striker kicked out at the back of the Toronto’s midfielder’s legs after the two collided near midfield. Referee Silviu Petrescu was within view of the play, but did not make a call.

“On any other day in any other league, I think that player sees a suspension,” Vanney said.

The Reds did manage a few chances while dominating possession ― and battling a strong wind ― before the break, all of it through all-star Sebastian Giovinco.

Early on, the Atomic Ant found himself in alone on New York City goalkeeper Eirik Johansen, playing in just his second match of the season. The Italian couldn’t put the ball away from close range.

Later, a free kick, which deflected off the defence’s wall, was palmed away by the six-foot-seven Johansen, again thwarting a Giovinco attempt.

It took the Reds less than 15 minutes of the second half to double its chances and they just kept coming — 16 shots in the final 45 minutes.

A tap-in by defender Justin Morrow was waved off after referee Petrescu decided Altidore had handled the ball on the assist. Centre back Drew Moor almost put the ball in the back of the net as well, from nearly the same position, while a long-range shot from Giovinco landed on top of Johansen’s net. Midfielder Jonathan Osorio latched onto a low cross from Giovinco, but couldn’t guide the ball over the line from close range.

New York City had little response to Toronto’s pressure, despite bringing on Frank Lampard early in the second half. For a while, though, it looked to be enough for the visitors. But thanks to Altidore and Ricketts, the Reds finished the night on the right foot with ninety minutes to play.

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