Requiring victory by a four goal margin in the rain-soaked Stade Saputo in Montreal, Toronto FC put on an emphatic attacking display to sweep aside an under-strength Montreal Impact side and pip the Vancouver Whitecaps to the Canadian title on goal difference, thereby winning the first trophy in Toronto FC history and ensuring the clubs entry into the CONCACAF Champions League as Canada's sole representative.
Montreal left Roberto Brown, Rocco Placentino and Sandro Grande on the bench for what was a match of little significance for them. Last year's champion team had been abysmal this term, losing all their games. From the kick off, TFC burst forward in numbers, looking for an early goal to give them belief in their herculean mission.
With the heavens pouring down, the pitch was particularly difficult to play on with the ball zipping off the surface. Despite Toronto's pressure, it was Leonardo Di Lorenzo for Montreal who produced the first moment of danger at the other end. His curling shot sailing over the bar after good work from David Testo.
Amado Guevara started to dictate play as Toronto tried to translate their monopoly in possession into meaningful chances. The TFC players, mindful that their last four goal triumph came two years prior against FC Dallas, needed to register an early advantage to spur themselves on.
However, when Nick Garcia tripped Peter Byers in the penalty box, it was Montreal Impact who won a penalty. Tony Donatelli calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner as Stefan Frei guessed the wrong way, giving Montreal a 1-0 lead and seemingly ending all hope for Toronto, as they now had to score five unanswered goals.
Instead of allowing their heads to drop, TFC continued to attack with menace, winning successive corners. Dwayne De Rosario produced a magnificent close rang overhead kick to tie the game at 1-1 in the 30th minute. TFC pressed forward once more, Danny Dichio's bullet of a header went just wide from a fantastic De Rosario cross.
Pablo Vitti produced a carbon copy of De Rosario's overhead kick, but Byers cleared his shot off the line. Yet, TFC were not to be denied for long. De Rosario managed to put TFC in the ascendancy with 39 minutes on the clock as his angled shot deflected off a defender and into the net from a Jim Brennan cross. Toronto could have gone in two goals to the good had Dichio managed to keep down a late header. At half time, TFC were 2-1 up and needed three more goals to win their first ever trophy.
Chris Cummins made a bold change at the break, bringing on Chad Barrett for Vitti. This move proved to be a masterstroke as Barrett played De Rosario through with a delightful pass. One on one with the keeper, De Ro buried his shot into the back of the net for his hattrick; the first ever three goal haul in the Canadian Nutrilite Championship. 3-1 to TFC, needing two more goals in 40 minutes.
The Reds were now playing a dangerous game, leaving only Adrian Serioux and Garcia at the back. The incessant pressure applied on the home side's goal produced the goods for Toronto once again. Guevara scored a free kick from the edge of the box in typical style; his shot going over the wall and nestling into the inside netting with the goalkeeper scrambling. 4-1 to TFC, only one more goal required in 22 minutes.
TFC exhausted their quota of substitutions by bringing on Marco Velez for Serioux and Fuad Ibrahim for Nana Attakora. However, it was the halftime switch that proved vital for Toronto. Chad Barrett scored off an Amado Guevara corner to complete the improbable: 5-1 to TFC. His header bouncing into the roof of the net, sending the sizable contingent of TFC fans into delirium. With eight minutes left, Toronto could ill afford to concede. Montreal finally got to enjoy a decent spell of possession with the visitors content to defend their advantage.
Super-sub Barrett was still not done though. His flick from inside the area found Guevara who calmly slotted the ball inside the right post for his second of the game and Toronto's sixth. Capping off a truly remarkable performance from the MLS side to take home their first meaningful silverware.
TFC will now look to replicate this superlative performance in the MLS to cement their place in the playoffs for the first time in their history.
Talha Zaheer, Goal.com
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