After a Sunday full of playoff soccer Toronto FC emerged as the latest favorites to take the 2016 MLS Cup, crushing New York City FC 5-0 at Yankee Stadium one week after a 2-0 decision north of the border.
Toronto’s Atomic Ant fueled at least in part by a snub delivered by MLS MVP voters led the way with his hat trick but Sebastian Giovinco had plenty of help from his DP cohorts Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore as well as a more than capable supporting cast.
As expected, Giovinco, the 2015 MVP, shrugged off the affront following the TFC win. Smiling as he stood in front of his locker in the visitors dressing room at Yankee Stadium, Seba said through his interpreter, “no, this is not a question to be asked of me. My job is scoring goals and providing assists and that is what I want to keep doing for the team.”
TFC coach Greg Vanney had a different take when asked how much his star striker was motivated by being overlooked. “A lot” was Vanney’s reply. “His priority is winning a trophy, I think last year he took a lot of pride in the fact that he was the MVP and he was every bit the same player through the course of the season and was unfortunate to have a little bit of injury down the tail stretch there.”
Vanney noted that “tonight was obviously a chance for him and the group to make a statement.”
It was a day for Canadian teams making statements in the New York area with Montreal defeating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 across the Hudson River in Harrison, New Jersey behind a pair of goals from Ignacio Piatti to set up a Canadian showdown with TFC for a chance to earn a trip to the MLS Cup Championship.
Piatti’s second goal was set up by presumably chastened superstar Didier Drogba, making the most of his 10 minutes after he was sprung from the bench by coach Mario Biello.
Montreal won the two-game total goals set by a 3-1 margin following last Sunday’s 1-0 home win.
The Colorado Rapids will battle the Seattle Sounders for the Western Conference crown after veteran U.S. MNT stars Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones inspired the Rapids to a pk win over the L.A. Galaxy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colorado and Seattle protected its 3-0 lead in Texas.
The Galaxy was unable to protect or add to a 1-0 lead earned in game one over Colorado and faced extra time thanks to an astounding strike from nearly 40 yards by Shkelzen Gashi in the 36th minute.
With Landon Donovan subbed out with a muscle injury at the half L.A. looked old, as opposed to looking like the “old” Championship winning Galaxy.
Donovan’s old U.S. running mate Tim Howard came up with two big saves in the pk round and heads to Columbus along with Jones for Friday’s face off with old rivals Mexico while Donovan heads into the off-season for what seems likely the final time.
Seattle came into Frisco, Texas with that three-goal lead over FCD and despite a 2-1 victory on the night, it was simply too much for the Supporters Shield winners to overturn.
Dallas opened the scoring in the 25th minute through Tesho Akindele as the home team fought to keep the Triple alive, having previously claimed the U.S. Open Cup along with the Shield.
But a Walker Zimmerman miscue allowed Tyrone Mears to set up Nicolas Lodeiro for an away goal in the 54th minute to all but kill the FCD dream. Dallas immediately responded through Max Urruti but that would be all the scoring as Seattle advanced to face Colorado.
The Sounders will have to sweat out the availability of rookie sensation Jordan Morris after the local boy made good was pulled from the match at the half with a “strained hamstring.”
Morris’ injury puts his participation in the upcoming U.S MNT twinbill versus CONCACAF rivals Mexico and Costa Rica.