It took some time but Toronto FC have finally done what we’ve been expecting them to do for a month: claim the Supporter’s Shield for the first time in franchise history. The Reds have been coming off two straight losses against Montreal and New England. The MLS record for points was in jeopardy when Toronto’s leaders stepped up and delivered on this night. The match ended 4-2 for Toronto over New York Red Bulls. The win brought the Reds to 65 points too far for anyone else to catch them. They have claimed a difficult trophy to win and more importantly home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The affair began scrappy as New York Red Bulls pressed TFC high throughout the first half and nullified their usually potent attack at home. The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute. An unusual giveaway from NYRB allowed Jozy Altidore to head the ball into the 6 yard box where Tosaint Ricketts’ attempt was saved when Justin Morrow pounced on the loose ball to open the scoring. In the 37th it would be Morrow again taking advantage of a deflected shot that fell to his feet and slotted the ball through giving the Reds a commanding 2-0 lead.
NYRB answered immediately a minute later. While Toronto FC were pressing high. 5 box-to-box passes later and Gonzalo Veron was all alone to cut the lead to 2-1. The first half closed with TFC hitting two posts with Morrow coming close to getting his third. In the second half Toronto FC sat back and a penalty was called against Drew Moor for tripping a Red Bulls forward. Daniel Royer cooly scored to tie the game up at 2-2 in the 77th minute.
TFC without Giovinco and already on a losing streak seemed to be destined to drop more points. This is where the resilience that has made Toronto FC a powerhouse in the last year came into play. A gutsy performance from Altidore in the second half won TFC a penalty of their own only minutes later and Victor Vazquez with ice in his veins gave TFC the lead. The Spaniard was all over the pitch on the night playing the perfect box-to-box role. In stoppage time Altidore burst through the defence when his wide shot was put away by none other than Justin Morrow for the hat trick. Toronto’s left wing back has been the best in MLS this season and can do it all on both sides of the pitch. He is one of TFC’s most influential players and will be relied on heavily come playoff time.
After the match Greg Vanney spoke about the importance of the Supporter’s Shield, “This trophy is hard to win and it’s a measure of consistency, being so good for an entire season. This one is for the fans who deserve it just as much as us sticking through some tough years. We have to finish the job now and claim that third trophy (MLS Cup).
Speaking to reporters in the dressing room Jozy Altidore was on the same page as his coach, “The Supporters Shield is great but it’s just another step in the way now comes the most important stretch of our season. It was great to be back out there on the field, I felt good out there especially in the box when I needed to make some plays out there.
Captain Michael Bradley on the Supporters Shield, “What we’ve done now is secured the fact that our final game this season whether it’s MLS Cup or the second leg of a playoff game will be at home against our fans and that is defintely gonna help us.”
Toronto FC are still 4 points away from beating the MLS record of 68 points set by LA Galaxy in 1998. After the short international break the Reds are at home again to play rivals Montreal Impact on October 15.
Post game celebrations inside the Toronto FC dressing room