Toronto FC Eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs after 1-0 Defeat to Nashville SC
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Toronto FC’s season officially came to an end tonight as they were eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs after falling 1-0 to expansion side Nashville SC in extra-time.
Toronto coach Greg Vanney went with a 4-2-3-1 formation: Quentin Westberg stating in-goal; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, and Richie Laryea on the backline; Jonathan Osorio, Nick DeLeon, Pablo Piatti, Alejandro Pozuelo, and captain Michael Bradley in the midfield; and the returning Jozy Altidore as the striker up top.
By no means did the 2020 MLS season do any favours for Toronto; they played a Canadian series of matches against the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps before having to relocate to Hartford, Connecticut, to play their remaining home matches. On top of that, Toronto players hardly had time to spend with their families and did not have the luxury of hosting their playoff match at BMO Field. All things considered, Toronto embraced the challenge and were in the Supporters’ Shield race until the final match of the season.
Toronto were unable to get on the scoresheet in the first half, which was a testament to the structured play of the expansion side. Throughout the season, Nashville has done an excellent job sticking to their game plan and have been able to frustrate teams with their organized defensive play.
A key contributor to Nashville’s backline has been Alistair Johnston. Nashville selected the 22-year old Canadian right-back with the 11th overall pick in the MLS Draft and he has continued to excel as a day-to-day MLS starter in his current surroundings and has become a reliable option for coach Gary Smith.
Fortunately for Toronto, there were two goals scored by Nashville that had been disallowed due to offside. Based on how closely contested the match was, even if one of the two disallowed goals could had counted, it would have crucial turning point and one that resulted in a win.
After 90 minutes, the match was still scoreless and needed extra time to determine a winner. Both Westberg and Joe Willis came up big for their respective clubs when needed and were the difference makers in ensuring their side were still in it and had a chance to win.
The extra-time portion of the match was just as nerve wracking as the opening 90 minutes; Nashville scored a goal, but it was ruled offside once again. Vanney decided to make a few changes towards the end of the first-half of extra-time by brining on Ralph Priso, Tony Gallagher, and Erickson Gallardo, to provide a spark heading into the final 15-minutes of play.
Fourth time was a charm for Nashville in the 108th minute, when Hany Mukhtar’s shot was stopped by Westberg, which resulted in a rebound that Daniel Rios struck in the back of the net, to give Nashville the 1-0 lead with 13-minutes remaining.
Toronto were in desperation mode and had their best opportunity towards the end of extra-time, when Akinola’s shot attempt was stopped by Smith and led to a scramble in the box with multiple Toronto players trying to get a clear shot on-goal, but were unable to capitalize. This was Toronto’s best opportunity to tie the match up, but the final whistle sounded moments later to end their season.
With the win, Nashville advances to the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they will take on the Columbus Crew.
Photo Credit: Toronto FC