Toronto FC

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MLS: NYCFC with 3 wins in 3; defending champs TFC point-less

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NEW YORK (AP) Ismael Tajouri and Maximiliano Moralez scored 12-minutes apart in the second half and New York City FC opened the season with three straight wins for the first time in the club’s short history with a 2-0 victory over Orlando City on Saturday.

Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik misplayed a back-pass that went right to Tajouri inside the 18-yard box and Tajouri took a few touches to the penalty spot for an easy finish in the 62nd minute. After an Orlando giveaway to Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jesus Medina settled it for an oncoming Moralez to slide it home.

NYCFC (3-0-0) was without start David Villa due to a minor injury.

Orlando City (0-2-1), led by NYC’s former coach Jason Kreis (2014-15), has its share of injury problems as well. Striker Stefano Pinho had a right ankle injury last Saturday, leaving on crutches, and playmaker Dom Dwyer will be out for at least two more weeks.

Sacha Kljestan made his debut for Orlando after serving a two-game ban. The club arrived late due to the St. Patrick’s Day parade traffic.

MONTREAL (AP) Jeisson Vargas scored four minutes before the intermission to lift Montreal to a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in the Impact’s home opener Saturday.

It was the first MLS goal for 20-year-old Vargas and the first win for new coach Remi Garde, who replaced Mauro Biello in December as coach of the Impact (1-2).

Toronto (0-2) played its first game since a rousing victory in the CONCACAF Champions League over Mexican side Tigres. The travel to Mexico may have sapped some energy from the defending MLS champions, who nonetheless started most of their top players.

Garde seemed to catch everyone off guard by starting a three-man backline with former Marseille defender Rod Fanni making his debut in the middle.

It made for a mostly uneventful first half until Saphir Taider intercepted a ball and sent Ignacio Piatti up the middle. Three Toronto defenders focused on the Impact captain, leaving Vargas open on the right side to take the pass and slice a shot inside the goalpost in the 41st minute for their first lead in three games.

Piatti was inside the Toronto penalty area on two more occasions before the break but Nick Hagglund blocked one dangerous shot and another was also turned away.

Eight minutes into the second half, Piatti sent Taider in alone but Alexander Bono pushed the shot.

Toronto threatened in the 64th when Sebastian Giovinco got the ball to striker Jozy Altidore. He lifted a shot over goalie Evan Bush but saw it bounce just wide. Toronto looked to have tied it in the 84th minute when Altidore’s shot got behind Bush and was rolling slowly to the goal line, but Michael Petrasso swept it away at the last second.

Montreal striker Matteo Mancosu, who missed practice this week for what the team called precautionary reasons, didn’t dress.

Midfielder Victor Vazquez, who has had back trouble, didn’t dress for Toronto. Chris Mavinga (suspected sports hernia) was in the lineup but did not start.

MLS Weekend Preview: 401 Derby and Petke’s reunion

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Major League Soccer has reached Week 3 of its 2018 season, though much of the focus has been on the CONCACAF Champions League.

That changes temporarily for Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls, the heroes of the tournament and two sides facing decent sub plots in league play at the weekend.

[ MORE: USMNT to host Bolivia ]

For FC Dallas, who fell flat against a Tauro side which was rocked by Club America, and injury-ravaged Seattle, it’s a chance to meet each other on Sunday for commiserations and clattering tackles.

Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC — 3 p.m. ET Saturday

The 401 Derby has had plenty of “throw out the records” moments, including Montreal’s surprising win at BMO Field last September, and this could be another beauty given the dislike for each other and TFC’s midweek trip to Mexico.

Toronto has claimed five of nine matches, with the Impact winning three, and five of the last six between the rivals have seen four or more combined goals. Get your poutine ready.

Sporting KC vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday

The hosts are coming off a thrilling 4-3 win against Chicago, while San Jose played an enticing 3-2 encounter on Opening Day before finding a week off on the docket. That’s not to say we should expect fireworks, but coaches Mikael Stahre and Peter Vermes play forward-thinking and there’s reason to look forward to the later kickoff.

Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls — 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Influential Red Bulls coach Mike Petke was hired to take over RSL four days after the last time these two met and this match will be fun despite it not taking place in Harrison.

Petke led RBNY captain Luis Robles and company to the club’s first Supporters’ Shield, and it should be an interesting night for the few players who remain with the club from Petke’s tenure.

“As a player, he had a ferocity to him that fans loved,” Robles told “He had a competitiveness that was huge, but then he also brings it as a coach. I think that’s why we were successful in 2013, because the same type of competitive streak he had.”

While RBNY will be flying high from a convincing CONCACAF Champions League win, RSL has been anything but strong in an 0-1-1 start complete with a 5-1 home beatdown from expansion LAFC.


DC United vs. Houston Dynamo — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew — 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Minnesota United vs. Chicago Fire — 2 p.m. ET Saturday
NYCFC vs. Orlando City — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Atlanta United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders — 5 p.m. ET Sunday

Giovinco free kick highlights Toronto’s CCL semi-clinching draw (video)

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Sebastian Giovinco forced an own goal and netted a free kick as Toronto FC advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals despite a 3-2 second leg loss to UANL Tigres on Tuesday in Mexico.

Tigres scored a penalty in stoppage time, but the pair of away goals pushed TFC through on a 4-4 aggregate score line.

TFC will play Club America unless Tauro makes amends for a 4-0 deficit after one leg come Wednesday evening.

André-Pierre Gignac scored twice, one the penalty, and Eduardo Vargas also scored for Tigres.

[ MORE: Red Bulls advance past Xolos ]

The heady times started early for Toronto FC, which needed big plays from defender Chris Mavinga and goalkeeper Alex Bono in the first half.

Life got a lot harder for Tigres when Sebastian Giovinco forced an own goal in the 64th minute, though Vargas scored his second goal of the tie to give the hosts hope.

But that so-and-so Giovinco did what he does with his 73rd minute free throw free kick to lift TFC to a two-goal lead with a pair of away goals.

Gignac leveled the tie in the 84th, and then converted a penalty off a Gregory van der Wiel handball in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for the Liga MX side.

2018 setting up to be historic for MLS in CONCACAF Champions League

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Major League Soccer’s return to the field may only be as recent as a week, however, some of the league’s top sides have already earned crucial victories in another competition that has historically been a traitorous road.

[ MORE: Giovanni dos Santos talks Galaxy, El Tri and more with PST ]

Wednesday night saw two more MLS sides, Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders, pick up first leg victories against Tigres and Chivas Guadalajara, respectively, in the CONCACAF Champions League.

This coming after the New York Red Bulls earned a massive 2-0 win over Club Tijuana on Tuesday at the Estadio Caliente in Mexico.

In the past, MLS sides have struggled against Mexican opposition, which has proven to be the strongest competition in the CCL over its history.

In the modern-day Champions League era (2008-current), five Liga MX sides have won nine CCL titles, including Club America — who is involved in this season’s tournament.

The Champions Cup, which predates the current CCL, saw 23 Mexican clubs capture unanimous titles, while Universidad de Guadalajara was a joint-champion during the 1978 season with Defence Force and Comunicaciones.

Meanwhile, only six MLS teams have ever reached the semifinals or further in the competition, with two of those clubs — Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact — both losing in the final.

D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy each captured Champions Cup titles in 1998 and 2000, respectively, but both seasons only featured eight teams in the main bracket.

This season has shown to be a sign of vast improvement though for MLS and its clubs in the CCL. TFC, the Sounders and the Red Bulls combined to beat their opponents by a score of 10-3 during the Round of 16, while winning their first legs by a combined 5-1 in the quarterfinals.

TFC and the Sounders managed to earn positive results in front of their home supporters on Wednesday, but it was the Red Bulls that picked up a historic victory the night prior when they won down in Mexico.

That win for Jesse Marsch and Co. was the third time an MLS side has ever won south of the border, with previous teams boasting an underwhelming record of 3-38-8.

The work is certainly far from complete though for all three clubs, who now have to match their first leg efforts on March 13 and 14. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls will be the only team lucky enough to benefit from playing at home.

Toronto FC 2-1 Tigres: Reds punch back

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore scored second half goals as Toronto FC came back to top UANL Tigres 2-1 in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal at BMO Field on Wednesday.

Eduardo Vargas gave UANL Tigres a 1-0 lead, but the Liga MX side was behind the 8-ball the rest of the night.

The second leg is at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday at the Estadio Universitario.

[ MORE: USWNT wins SheBelieves Cup ]

Chances were at a premium in the first half, and the match deservedly went to halftime at nil-nil.

Tigres swapped Enner Valencia for Andre-Pierre Gignac at hafltime, giving the Reds a tactical challenge in adjusting to two very different strikers.

A moment after Jozy Altidore was stymied by Jose Francisco Torres, the big TFC striker was livid with the referee’s decision to not award him a 49th minute penalty.

Vargas beat Alex Bono in the 53rd minute, the Chilean scoring in yet another big spot.

TFC should’ve been level two minutes later, but Osorio opted for using the outside of his right foot over the natural path of Altidore’s cross to his left. The shot zipped over the goal.

Giovinco won a free kick dribbling through traffic in the 57th minute, but couldn’t get his shot to dip under the bar.

Altidore put the Reds ahead when Marky Delgado one-touched the big striker in on goal, and Altidore slid the ball home to make it 1-1.

Gignac then nearly beat Bono with a similar volley to Vargas’ goal, but the ball bounded wide of the far post.

The tide had swung in Toronto’s favor, and Giovinco won another free kick — perhaps with embellishment — near the chalk of the 18. The wall served its purpose.

Michael Bradley was at his very best in producing what could’ve easily been a go-ahead goal, swooping in front of a Tigres pass and then making a nifty 1v1 move before delivering a world-class cross that Altidore bungled on the six.

Osorio got the winner in the 89th minute, backheeling Giovinco’s cross into the Tigres goal.

Chris Mavinga made an outstanding challenge to stop Ismael Sosa late.

Here’s the winner: