MLS: Toronto FC set new points record; NYCFC clinch 2-seed
Atlanta United 2-2 Toronto FC
The standings: Toronto FC finish 1st in the Eastern Conference, and all of MLS — Supporters’ Shield winners; Atlanta United clinch the 4-seed in the East
The game: TFC’s bid to set a new all-time single-season points record was fulfilled on Sunday, as the 2017 Supporters’ Shield winners came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw with Atlanta United and finish the season on 69 points, moving one point ahead of the old record which they matched last week.
Yamil Asad and Josef Martinez (19th of the season) scored either side of Jozy Altidore’s equalizer (15th) right on the hour mark. Sebastian Giovinco, as he’s well known to do, delivered a world-class free kick to bring TFC level again in the 84th minute. Having already secured the regular-season title and home-field advantage for the duration of their playoff journey, TFC had only the points record to play for. Atlanta, on the other hand, came so close to leapfrogging the Chicago Fire New York City FC in order to claim the East’s second spot, and the knockout-round bye that comes with it, but ultimately finish fourth. Miguel Almiron made his return from injury after missing the last month, getting a half-hour of work as he rebuild fitness and sharpness ahead of the playoffs.
31' — Asad beats Bono from the spot for 1-0 — Atlanta are at their terrifying best with a lead in hand.
60' — Altidore brings TFC level with a quick finish — Sometimes all you have to do is be a pest, and good things will come. Altidore stuck with what appeared to be a hopeless ball, and pulled his side level.
74' — Martinez finishes at the near post for 2-1 — If not for his early-season injury, Martinez would have wound up MLS MVP, I’m almost 100 percent sure of it.
84' — Giovinco’s latest free kick masterpiece — For the 100th time, free kicks : Giovinco :: penalty kicks : everyone else.
Man of the match: Jozy Altidore
Goalscorers: Asad (31' - PK), Altidore (60'), Martinez (74'), Giovinco (84')
New York City FC 2-2 Columbus Crew SC
The standings: NYCFC clinch the East’s 2-seed; Crew SC clinch the East’s 5-seed
The game: NYCFC limped over the finish line, having won just one of their final seven games, and so nearly coughed up the second seed in the process, if not for that late bit of brilliance from Giovinco. David Villa remains in scintillating form through all the ambient noise, though he remains but one (and a half, maybe) man. Spain’s all-time leading scorer bagged two more on Sunday to take his season tally to 22. Villa, however, was denied from the penalty spot during second-half stoppage time.
While Patrick Vieira’s side allowed two clear-cut chances all afternoon, Ola Kamara and Josh Williams each converted to help Crew SC pick up a resolute result following the most tumultuous of weeks.
11' — Higuain picks out Kamara, and it’s 1-0 — The chipped ball from Federico Higuain, playing his final game for Crew SC, is just delightful. The finish from Kamara is unstoppable.
18' — Villa heads home from a corner to make it 1-1 — 21 on the season for Villa, who’s got a great case for back-to-back MVP awards.
45' — Villa beats Steffen near post, and it’s 2-1 — Zack Steffen should definitely be making this save, and not allowing a rebound opportunity. 22 for Villa, who doesn’t exactly need them gifted to him.
58' — Williams heads home a corner, and they’re tied — Set-piece service doesn’t get much better than this. (It helps when the goalkeeper does whatever it is that Sean Johnson does here.)
Man of the match: David Villa
Goalscorers: Kamara (11'), Villa (18', 45'), Williams (58')