Toronto FC’s attackers and substitutes moved to the head of the class following a 5-2 second leg victory over rivals Montreal that sewed up the Eastern Conference crown, and the MLS Cup berth that comes with it.
The Reds fell behind for the second time in as many tie matches, but exploited poor set piece defending by the Impact three times to send the home leg to extras. From there, they hit twice to run away with their first invite to the MLS title game.
Clint Irwin (6) – The home netminder couldn’t have much to say about either goal leaked, as the first came on a sudden break and he was wrong-footed by a deflection on the second. Irwin’s command of his area was decent and he ended up with four saves.
Eriq Zavaleta (6) – The right center back was far too timid in challenging Nacho Piatti on Montreal’s second goal. From then on, Zavaleta was big, notching 10 defensive stops in or near the TFC area. He also amassed 19 positive passes in or into the attacking end.
Drew Moor (5) – Moor was woefully culpable on both Impact tallies, but did have a couple of stretches when he took over at the back. His best intervention of the night came just before the end of regulation.
Nick Hagglund (7) – Like Moor, Hagglund was burnt on both Montreal goals. However, he also rallied to score one of the most famous goals in club history to send the game to extra time. It wasn’t his only key header on a restart, as another effectively set up Toronto’s first strike of the match. By the end, he’d racked up 21 total defensive stops to lead all players.
Steven Beitashour (5.5) – The right wingback had little effect of any kind for most of the evening. Beitashour struggled on and off the ball – that is, until he served the perfect cross for Toronto’s series winner to pull his grade back toward passing.
Will Johnson (5.5) – Called into service after helping the Reds turn the tide in leg one, Johnson gave them a lukewarm 62-minute shift on Wednesday.
Michael Bradley (5.5) – For the better part of an hour, the Reds skipper had a tough time. His passes weren’t connecting and he was losing the important battles, such as the one that precipitated Montreal’s opener. Then, suddenly, he morphed back into the General Bradley we all know and spent the remainder guiding his team toward MLS Cup.
Armando Cooper (7.5) – It was quite the remarkable 88-minute outing from Cooper, who started the home side’s rally with an opportunistic goal. The 29-year-old Panamanian was everywhere during his shift, spreading an impressive 16 defensive plays all across midfield while completing 40 of 45 passes.
Justin Morrow (6.5) – The left-sider was a bit too unselfish on an early chance, but that set-up mentality served him well as the game progressed. Morrow did some good work down his flank, most notably when he picked out Hagglund for the late tying goal that got TFC a vital extra 30 minutes.
Sebastian Giovinco (7) – The “Atomic Ant” was far more directly involved in the final third than in leg one, even if some of his tricks didn’t come off. He squandered a couple of early restarts and then served a host of deadly ones. One of them started with a quick Altidore confab and ended in Toronto FC’s first lead of the series.
Jozy Altidore (8) – The Reds striker constantly put his body on the line to mix it up with Impact players and repeatedly found extra energy when he needed to outrun someone, even when exhausted and soaking wet late in the game. Altidore bagged a terrific corner kick header to set an MLS record (five straight playoff games with a goal…