Toronto Defeat Montreal Impact, Take Top Spot in Eastern Conference
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, August 28, 2020
Alejandro Pozuelo’s goal from the penalty spot was all Toronto FC needed to defeat their rivals Montreal Impact. With the 1-0 win, Toronto extend their unbeaten streak to 18 matches and take the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Another impressive accomplishment for the club is that tonight’s win was their third consecutive clean sheet.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney went with a 4-4-1-1 formation in tonight’s match: Quentin Westberg in-goal; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, and Justin Morrow on the backline; Jonathan Osorio, Marky Delgado, Pablo Piatti, and captain Michael Bradley in the midfield; Alejandro Pozuelo playing as an attaking midfielder and second striker; and Patrick Mullins getting the start as the striker up top in-place of Jozy Altidore, who was out of the lineup due to personal reasons.
It was another great performance from Toronto, who were structured defensively and maintained their composure with the lead and did not give up any late goals, which had cost them during the MLS is Back Tournament last month.
In the 50th minute, Toronto were awarded a penalty kick following a handball in the Impact’s box. Pozuelo, who has been a reliable penalty-kick taker, stepped up to the spot and struck the ball in that back of the net, to give his club the 1-0 lead.
Montreal had 250 people in attendance once again, so it will be interesting to see if either Toronto or Vancouver will be able to experiment with limited spectators in their stadium or if their respective public health departments feel it would be best to continue playing with no spectators for the time foreseeable future.
Prior to the match, Vanney and Bradley remained standing for the national anthem while others kneeled and explained their reasoning following the match.
“I have one assistant coach on my staff (Jason Bent) who is Canadian…he was standing and we stood with him” said Vanney, who then added “I knew there would be a moment of silence for Black Lives Matter and knew I would take a knee for that cause.”
During his post-match media availability, Bradley stated “I’ll always be a strong voice for racial equality and will continue to use the platform I have to talk about things I believe are important. Looking at our society right now its heartbreaking. The systemic racism, social injustice, police brutality all has to end and I wholeheartedly support Black Lives Matter.”
Bradley then mentioned what he had been reflecting on during the anthem:
"I spent that moment in the national anthem thinking about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake - thinking of them, thinking of their families. I want justice for them. I want to live in a world and a society where the hateful, hurtful things that have been going on for hundreds of years come to an end."
This match was also significant because it was Osorio’s 250th cap with the club. Osorio has been with Toronto during the low points when they had struggled to find an identity as well as the successful years that saw the club set records, win the domestic treble, MLS Cup, and reach the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Vanney gave his thoughts on what Osorio means to both the club and Canadian soccer after his 250th cap:
“He’s a workhorse all around the facility and now he’s the guiding light for a lot of our young Canadian players. In terms of the pathway and the work rate and what it takes to get there and stay there and to make a difference. He’s that guy. I love having him on the team, he’s part of the heart and soul of this group. I’m proud of him for 250 and hoping he can get 250 more.”
Toronto FC are back in action on Tuesday when they host the Montreal Impact at BMO Field.
Photo Credit: Toronto FC