Two huge teams knocked out in Galaxy and Atlanta which will give a bonus to all teams. The Toronto tie looks tough, especially with your opposite number Bielsa being an idol
Toronto Break Cincy Hearts
Toronto FC have beaten FC Cincinnati 2-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round, thanks to goals from Jay Chapman and Laurent Ciman, breaking the hearts of Cincinnati fans.
After an incredible season, in which FC Cincinnati exceeded all expectations, Toronto FC have stopped them in their tracks in the first round of the playoffs. With Cincy going into the game with high hopes, they could never get a hold on the game, with Toronto showing their class throughout.
Controlling 57% of possession in the first 45, as well as limiting their opponents to just two shots, Toronto were unfortunate to not go into the half time break a goal or two ahead. Coming out of the break, it was the same as before with the Candaian outfit continuing to pile on the pressure. Cincinnati finally cracked in the 53rd minute, starting from a poor pass from Rasmus Schüller on a rare Cincy attack. With Schüller gifting the ball to former Derby County player Johnny Russell, the Scot burst forward. A clever pass found Jordan Hamilton, who then laid a pass off for Jay Chapman. Chapman, who won the games ‘Man of the Match’ award, made no mistake in firing it into the Cincy net.
Having dominated the game, Toronto started to show cracks following the opener. Leandro Bertone forced Alex Bono into his first save of the game in the 75th minute, before Brian Black came close twice, having come on as a substitute. Cincy’s best chance of the game however, fell to fellow substitute Jonathan Spector in the 78th minute.
A short Toronto goal kick was received by centerback Julian Dunn. Julian Gressel immediately put the pressure on the young Canadian, who instantly gave the ball back to his keeper. With Gressel joined by Jonathan Spector in applying the pressure, Bono had no options and kicked it straight into the chest of the German winger. Rebounding straight of Gressel’s chest, Spector had the entire goal to aim at from the edge of the area. Yet the experienced American international, saw his shot go wide of the near post.
A clearly furious Paul King was animated on the touch line throwing his jacket to the ground in fury. The miss proved fatal as Toronto once again took control of the game, earning a penalty with a minute to go. Centerback and Vice-Captain, Laurent Ciman was given the duty and made no mistake in converting the spot kick.
With little time left, Leandro Bertone once again came close, however, Bono ensured his side kept a clean sheet in their first round playoff match. Despite the impressive performance, Marcelo Bielsa, Toronto’s Head Coach, wasn’t overly complimentary of his sides win.
“I thought we were ok at best. We should have gone into half time at least one or two up and then when we finally did get that opening goal, we let them back into the game. Thankfully our defense and especially Alex (Bono) performed well to keep us ahead. We are going to need to improve again next week if we want to stand a chance against New York City, who are a very talented team.” commented Marcelo Bielsa with the help of his translator.
Toronto will now go to New York to face Eastern Conference regular season champions, New York City next week saturday. Whilst for FC Cincinnati, they will be going on holiday having impressed everyone throughout their debut season.
“Obviously right now in this moment I am very disappointed. It was a match we thought we could win and perform well in but we never managed to really get into it. Credit to Toronto they controlled the game well apart from a spell of about ten minutes. But overall I am so very proud of this side, we have done exceptionally well this year. With this platform in place we are looking forward to progressing and becoming even stronger. We can’t afford to now sit and say we have done well in the first year we can relax a bit and assume we will continue to make the playoffs every year. Next year we will have even more games with the CONCAF Champions League so it is important we strengthen well this off-season and get right back at it from the off next season.” stated Paul King.
With Cincinnati’s manager clear in his thoughts about the franchises future, it will be interesting to see how he strengthens his team. With six members (Nazmi Albadawi, Forrest Lasso, Jimmy Mclaughlin, Eric Kronenberg, Victor Ulloa and Fatai Alashe) of his squad seemingly running out their contracts, additions will certainly be needed.
Other Playoff First Round Results
New York Red Bulls 3-2 New England Revolution (AET)
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Real Salt Lake (Vancouver Whitecaps won 5-4 on penalties)
San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 Houston Dynamo (AET)
Jim: Thank you mate. I really enjoyed that update, seeing how everyone had done more in depth whilst also noting their key players. Glad you enjoyed it!
Scott:Just a step to far. A team who has been able to develop a strong side over the past few years and with Bielsa in charge it was always going to be tough.
SOA:Unfortunately we couldn't quite manage it. They were excellent throughout the game and the better team went through.
Jack:It was certainly interesting seeing Galaxy and Atlanta not making the playoffs. Toronto were brilliant and dominated from start to finish. Unfortunately we just couldn't get anything going. Onwards and upwards next season though.