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MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 2-0 New York City FC (video)

Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco

Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore celebrates his goal in front of Sebastian Giovinco, right, against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)


The game in 100 words (or less): If you were to make a case for the current MLS Cup Playoffs format, in which the conference semifinals and finals are played across two legs, the only argument for such a system is that it’s rich in strategy required to navigate 180 minutes, procuring two separate, perhaps very different results in order to secure passage in the next round. On Sunday night, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, New York City FC got to within six minutes of grinding out their most desired results — a 0-0 draw at BMO Field — before Jozy Altidore scored the game’s opening goal in the 84th minute, and Tosaint Ricketts doubled the advantage in the 92nd minute, to fire Toronto FC into the driver’s seat ahead of next weekend’s second leg at Yankee Stadium. From so close to what they wanted, to needing two goals and a clean sheet in the second leg just to take the tie to extra time. BMO Field waited 10 long years for a night like Wednesday’s knockout-round victory over the Philadelphia Union, and now they’ve enjoyed two in four nights.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

12' — Johansen denies Giovinco 1-on-1 early on — Jozy Altidore is playing some fantastic soccer right now, in every facet of the game, including his hold-up play and the way he brings others — namely Giovinco — into play.

41' — Giovinco’s free kick swerves, doesn’t fool Johansen — Eirik Johansen - 2, Sebastian Giovinco - 0.

84' — Altidore slams home a loose ball for 1-0 — When it comes to Jozy, they’re not always rarely pretty, but they count the same nonetheless.

90+2' — Ricketts does the same from close range for 2-0 — Ahem. They don’t all have to be pretty. You don’t even have to be on your feet to score them.

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Men of the match: Michael Bradley

Goalscorers: Altidore (84'), Ricketts (90+2')

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