Montreal Impact knocked out of Eastern Conference Championship

TORONTO, Ontario – The Montreal Impact’s spectacular playoff run came to an unfortunate end on Wednesday night at BMO Field with a 5-2 loss (after two extra time goals) to Toronto FC. The Reds thus move on to MLS Cup with a 7-5 aggregate win and will host Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, December 10, at 8pm.

Brave until the last second, the Bleu-blanc-noir scored through Dominic Oduro and Nacho Piatti, two pieces of a tight-knit group that won the hearts of the entire city in these MLS Cup Playoffs.

“I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. “No one thought we’d get that far, losing only one game in the playoffs. We fought until the very end, but unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted. But we’ll come back stronger next year.”

Harsh ending despite solid start
The Impact opened the scoring 24 minutes in, seconds after a huge intervention from Víctor Cabrera to clear a dangerous Justin Morrow cross. On the ensuing transition, Patrice Bernier won his battle in midfield against Michael Bradley and fed Matteo Mancosu, who slipped a beautiful ball behind Nick Hagglund for Oduro, who beat Clint Irwin.

But Toronto scored twice on corner kicks before the break. First, in the 37th minute, Hernán Bernardello did well to block the initial attempt off the line, but Cooper slammed the rebound home to give TFC a bit of hope.

Then, in the 45th minute, Sebastian Giovinco played his delivery at the near post. Jozy Altidore, who could have been sent off after he violently barged into Bernardello in the 13th minute, headed the ball into the net, giving the Reds an away-goals lead.

But the Impact came back from the break and took another lead in the 53rd minute. Johan Venegas, a halftime substitute, found Piatti on the edge of the area, surrounded by most of the Toronto backline. Still, Piatti found a way through and pushed the ball, which trickled past Irwin.

“I am proud of this team, as we gave everything,” said team captain Patrice Bernier. “You score twice on the road, you’ve done the hardest part. This was a very emotionally charged game. Goals all over the place, taking the lead, losing the lead. This game was a roller coaster of emotions. We left everything we had on the field.”

The Reds made it 3-2 in the 68th. On a short corner, Morrow crossed to the penalty spot, where Hagglund leaped to nod the ball home.

With the aggregate score tied at 5-5, extra time was required, and the Reds tallied twice in quick succession. In the 98th minute, Benoît Cheyrou, who had just come on for the injured Giovinco, redirected a Steven Beitashour cross with his head to push Toronto ahead. Then, two minutes later, Altidore managed a low cross for Tosaint Ricketts, who extended his foot to drive the ball past Evan Bush.

TOR – GK-Clint Irwin; D-Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund; M-Steven Beitashour, Armando Cooper (Jonathan Osorio 88’), Michael Bradley, Will Johnson (Tosaint Ricketts 62’); F-Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco (Benoît Cheyrou 97’)

Subs not used – GK-Alex Bono; D-Josh Williams, Mark Bloom; F-Tsubasa Endoh

MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Hassoun Camara, Víctor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo; M-Dominic Oduro, Hernán Bernardello (Johan Venegas 46’), Marco Donadel, Patrice Bernier (Harry Shipp 103’), Ignacio Piatti; F-Matteo Mancosu (Didier Drogba 73’)

Subs not used – GK-Eric Kronberg; D-Donny Toia, Wandrille Lefèvre; M-Calum Mallace

MTL – Oduro (Mancosu) 24’
TOR – Cooper 37’
TOR – Altidore (Giovinco) 45’
MTL – Piatti (Venegas) 53’
TOR – Hagglund (Morrow) 68’
TOR – Cheyrou (Beitashour) 98’
TOR – Ricketts (Altidore) 100’

MTL – Ciman 8’
MTL – Camara 82’