MLS Conference Finals, Leg 1 Recap: TFC fights back, Seattle takes win


By Ryan Brister

The first legs of Major League Soccer’s conference finals were played on Tuesday night. The two home sides won, but they were narrow wins, with away goals being scored. Both games proved very competitive, and there is still everything to play for in the second legs next week.

Montreal Impact 3-2 Toronto FC

Toronto salvaged a useful result after falling behind big to Montreal.

The game was delayed half an hour because, embarrassingly, the penalty areas were painted wrong at Olympic Stadium. Perhaps that delay affected Toronto, because the Impact pounced on them early. Greg Vanney’s 3-5-2 could not deal with the quick counter, and Montreal sliced TFC open twice in the opening quarter hour. A stupendous turn and pass by Patrice Bernier freed Dominic Oduro for the opening goal, then Matteo Mancosu smashed in a cross to double the lead.

Toronto managed to endure the noise and survive the first half, only to be stunned again early in the second. Ambroise Oyongo intercepted a pass, dashed into the ample space that was given him, and took a bouncing shot that nonetheless got beyond Clint Irwin.

And then it all turned very quickly. The Impact defense failed to clear their lines for once, and Jozy Altidore headed in a goal to give TFC life in the 68th minute. Five minutes later, Michael Bradley scored, making the Olympic Stadium crowd very quiet. Montreal fans say Altidore should have been called for a foul in the build up, but it went uncalled.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Colorado Rapids

Seattle will take a narrow lead to Colorado after winning the first leg on Tuesday night.

The Rapids came out attacking early, and were rewarded for it. A clever dummy by Shkelzen Gashi gave Kevin Doyle just enough room to get off a deflected shot that found the back of the net. Seattle responded well. Christian Roldan took a shot that bounced off the post and fell to Jordan Morris, who buried the rebound.

After that sizzling start, things cooled down. Zac MacMath made a couple big saves late in the first half to keep things tied. The Rapids seemed to be comfortable absorbing pressure until the hour mark, when Mark Burch made a silly challenge to give away a penalty. Nicolas Lodeiro stepped up and put his side in front.

The game ended with the Sounders pushing for a third goal that would not come.