Toronto FC celebrated the arrival of the Supporters' Shield trophy with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Sunday, tying a league record for single-season points in the process.
It was a wild MLS game that had a bit of everything, from strange bounces to missed penalties — entertaining for the 27,866 fans on hand if not the two coaches.
With 68 points, Toronto (20-5-8) ties the league mark set by the 1998 Los Angeles Galaxy. Toronto coach Greg Vanney and assistants Dan Calichman and Robin Fraser were members of that Galaxy side, which collected its points total in 32 games during the league's shootout era.
Jozy Altidore scored in the first half for Toronto in its regular-season home finale on a day when high winds made for difficult conditions at BMO Field. TFC can add three more points to its tally next weekend when it closes out the regular season in Atlanta.
While Toronto got the win and was in control as the clock wore down, it was hardly the kind of shutdown performance Vanney will have wanted with the playoffs looming.
The slumping Impact (11-16-6) have now lost four straight and eight of their last nine.
Prior to the game, Toronto took possession of the Supporters' Shield, which goes to the MLS team with the best regular-season record.
The Shield made the rounds of the south stand during the game. The TFC players posed with it in front of the same stand after the match.
TFC officially clinched the Shield last time out, with a 4-2 victory over the visiting New York Red Bulls. That victory snapped a rare two-game losing streak, which included a 5-3 home loss Sept. 20 to the Impact that snapped Toronto's season-long undefeated run at BMO Field.
Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco, back after a four-game injury absence (quad), missed two cracks at a penalty in the dying seconds of the first half after being brought down by Victor Cabrera. He hit the post on the first attempt, only to be awarded a second go after referee Ted Unkel ruled goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau had come off his line.
He had, but only after a stutter-step move by Giovinco that the Impact deemed illegal. Perhaps justice was done when the Italian hit the base of the left post again on the second try.
The craziness continued early in the second half when Cabrera's long curling shot went off one post and then the other. The ball then bounced off Alex Bono but the Toronto 'keeper managed to claw it back before Matteo Mancosu could bang it in.
Giovinco had several excellent chances throughout the game but could not buy a goal.
Unkel managed to infuriate both teams within the first 30 minutes of a game, awarding three yellow cards but ignoring several other incidents.
While the sun was out for the late-afternoon kickoff after a brief pre-game monsoon, the conditions were spotty with a driving wind going north to south. It made for a somewhat loose, albeit end-to-end game.
Both teams had scoring chances early with Toronto's Marko Delgado rattling a shot off the crossbar in the sixth minute from just outside the penalty box.
Altidore opened the scoring in the 16th minute after a pass from Delgado deflected off a Montreal player to the U.S. international, who beat Crepeau with a low shot to the corner. The goal survived a video replay look, seemingly for offside.
The Impact were irate at the goal, arguing that Mancosu had been fouled by defender Chris Mavinga at the other end prior to the Toronto buildup. They seemed to have a good case.
Bono, who had looked shaky in the early going against the wind, stopped Mancosu from in close after defender Drew Moor's misplayed header allowed the Montreal forward to get behind the defence.
With the return of Giovinco, Toronto rolled out the big guns Sunday. Nicolas Hasler started at right fullback over Steven Beitashour.
The Impact, eliminated from the playoff picture last weekend, made seven changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Colorado last time out. Star attacker Ignacio Piatti sat out with a knee injury with starts for 18-year-old midfielder Ballou Tabla and the 23-year-old Crepeau.
Montreal's recent slide started with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Toronto at Saputo Stadium on Aug. 27. Then came losses to Chicago, New England, Minnesota, Atlanta, New York City FC and Colorado, sandwiched around the September win over Toronto.
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