After 10 seasons Congratulations is in order to Toronto FC for winning the Eastern Conference Championship in Major League Soccer (MLS) after defeating Montreal Impact 5-2 in extra time, However, tables do turn as the Reds suffered a devastating 5-4 loss on penalty kicks against Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup final after (yes) extra time, when the game finished scoreless

The final set a BMO Field attendance record of over 36,045 and while a win would have been a better result, TFC seemed to have elevated their status from playoffs seekers to contenders for the 2017 MLS Cup.

TFC set a lot of milestones this season and has been improving over the last two seasons. The key to the Reds season was its consistency both at home and on the road where the club registered the same amount of wins as loses.

 The Reds' defense complimented the explosive offense led by Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. The team was resilient all season but could not capitalize on its scoring chances against Seattle, in regulation time, extra time, or in  penalty kicks.

In spite of the fantastic save by   goalkeeper Stefan Frei's on a header by TFC forward Jozy Altidore's  in the second half of extra time there were signs that the Reds would have had to find an unlikely hero against the Sounders.

And if anyone had told Seattle Sounders that the game would have been scoreless heading into extra time they would have certainly liked their chances of winning. It is a scenario that TFC Coach Gregg Vanney should have found troubling: at home with one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

 Vanney could have managed the game better by making Tosaint Ricketts his first substitution. It would have placed more pressure on Seattle's defense since Ricketts has been TFC's offensive sparkplug off the bench since his arrival. 

So it was puzzling when Vanney seemed hesitant to unleash Ricketts in a match that his main forwards were seemingly struggling and went for a straight midfielder for midfielder change with Will Johnson for Jonathan Orsorio instead.

Vanney put Ricketts in the game as the third and last change for a hurting  Giovinco whereas Ricketts would have definitely covered more ground that may have allowed Sebastian to finish the match and be available for the penalty kicks as the # kicker. He could have also put Seattle wing back Joevin Jones on his back foot and take away Seattle offensive advantage with Joevin over TFC right wing back Steven Beitashour.

 This was a more plausible tactic that the straight midfielder for midfielder change. Not that it may have changed the outcome of the match that seemed destined for Seattle but it would have at the least give the impression that coach Vanney was trying to win the game and not run out the clock.

Since could've and should've is now history it is time to Congratulate the entire MLSE organization both past and present for a successful 2016 season as we look forward to a happy New Year  with the MLS Cup in 2017     

Fireworks! as Canadian team reach MLS Cup final

It's an exciting time for soccer in Canada as Montreal Impact faces Toronto FC in the semi final of the 2016 MLS Cup. The cross town rivalry is better known as the 401 (HWY) derby, and the Impact drew first blood after winning the opening leg 3-2 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. However, if the first leg is any indication of what to expect at the return match, it is safe to say there will be fireworks at BMO Field Stadium in Toronto next Wednesday at the second leg.

Montreal Impact was fast out the blocks before a partisan crowd of over 61, 000 at Olympic Stadium where they were making easy work of the Reds in the early stages of the game and took the early lead in the 10th minute when Oduro ran on to a pass from Patrice Bernier to slot pass the oncoming keeper.

Montreal continued to press forward and went up 2-0 lead at the 12th minute when Matteo Mancosu pounced on a low cross from Piatti into the net to send the Impact fans in a frenzy.

 The game had all the making of a blow out when Montreal extended its lead to 3-0 -0 just seven minutes into the second half, but as is always the case in two-legged series, the away goal began to loom large on the minds of the players.

With no pun intended I thought the next goal of the game would have created an impact on the match as Toronto coach Greg Vanney changed threw caution to the wind in the 57th minute with a double substitution.

 It is not the first time Vanney has done so successfully and he is hoping it would be the last for this season. However, I thought his tactic worked simple because Montreal Impact coach did not counter Vanney move and Toronto substitutions seemed to have served multiple purposes; It stopped the defensive seepage and it took away the Impact offensive momentum.

 Vanney brought in his secret offensive weapon Tousaint Ricketts for Jonathan Osorio and Will Johnson for Amando Cooper. And with the move Montreal seemed preoccupied with not conceding a goal. As a result most of the game was played in the Montreal half of the field until the Reds broke the shutout when Jozy Altidore converted on a cross from Sebastian Giovinco in the 68th minute.

Five minutes later Michael Bradley thread the needle on a short backward pass by Ricketts from within the 18 yard box to set up a nail biting 3-2 finish.

 Impact coach Mauro Biello only tactical move occurred when he brought in Didier Drogba in the 71st minute after his team had already lost momentum.

However, Drogba presence made things interesting as ne manufactured a couple of scoring chances with his strong positioning inside the box towards the latter part of the game. Coach Biello also brought in a lively Johan Venegas in the 87th minute but it was Drogba who demanded the respect of the Reds defense until the final whistle.

Stay Tuned to find out which team will represent Canada in the 2016 MLS Cup final! 

Toronto FC Lineup: Clint Irwin, Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund, Steven Beitashour (Mark Bloom 90' + 2'), Armando Cooper (Will Johnson 57'), Michael Bradley (capt),Jonathan Osorio (Tosaint Ricketts 57'), Justin Morrow, Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco. Substitutes Not Used: Alexander Bono, Josh Williams, Benoit Cheyrou, Tsubasa Endoh

 Montreal Impact Lineup:  Evan Bush, Hassoun Camara, (Donny Toia 81'), Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo, Patrice Bernier (Johan Venegas 87'), Marco Donadel, Hernan Bernardello, Dominic Oduro, Matteo Mancosu (Didier Drogba 71'), Ignacio Piatti. Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Calum Mallace, Wandrille Lefevre, Harry Shipp,

 Scoring Summary: MTL Dominic Oduro 10' (Patrice Bernier), MTL Matteo Mancosu 12' (Ignacio Piatti, Dominic Oduro) MTL Ambroise Oyongo 53' (Patrice Bernier' TFC  Jozy Altidore 68' (Sebastian Giovinco, Steven Beitashour), TFC Michael Bradley 73' (Tosaint Ricketts, Jozy Altidore)                                                                                                                                 

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