Toronto, Canada : Toronto FC will host either Seattle Sounders or Houston Dynamo – from the western conference – in Major League Soccer, MLS, final on December 9 after defeating Columbus Crew 1-0 in the second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Championship.
Jozy Altidore’s goal in the 60th minute was enough for Toronto FC to advance to the MLS final for the second consecutive year by beating Columbus 1-0 on Wednesday.
Seattle Sounders, who beat Toronto on penalties in last year’s final, lead 2-0 ahead of the return match against Houston Dynamo in Seattle on Thursday.
After a goalless draw in the first leg game in Ohio last week, Columbus needed a victory or a draw to advance.
But Altidore, diminished by an ankle injury, scored the decisive goal for Toronto
In the 60th minute, the clearance of goalkeeper Alex Bono reached the feet of Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian striker dragged marks and yielded with a heel to Altidore, who then delivered to Víctor Vázquez. The Spanish midfielder paused and filtered a ball for Altidore to tap in with his right foot, beating goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
It was Toronto’s first goal in 258 minutes. The last one was almost a month ago – on October 30 with a free kick by Giovinco 72 minutes into the 2-1 win on the court of the New York Red Bulls.
The Columbus forward grazed the tie at 87, but failed to splice a center.
“My ankle is a bit bummed,” Altidore explained afterwards. He was yelling for the ball before he got the pass from Victor Vasquez. For a second, the pain dissipated and the game meant everything.
“This is my home,” said Altidore. “I love this place. I love playing for the fans, this city. I hope it’s the last place I play.”
Toronto was the best team in the regular season, which set a record to reach 69 points. Of the 20 previous teams that led the regular phase, only six could be champions of the MLS and another succumbed in the final.