The long suffering Toronto FC faithful finally had true reason to celebrate. Not only does this victory move TFC ahead of the Columbus Crew for the wildcard spot in the East but it marks a franchise record in terms of points for a season.
This match began with a horrible collision between Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson and TFC Defender Mark Bloom. Johnson suffered a season-ending injury with a broken leg; later confirmed to be a fractured tibia and fibula, he will remain in Toronto for surgery. Both clubs were united in showing concern for the Canadian as the game was halted for eight minutes while he received treatment.
This seemed to stun TFC much more as TFC defender Nick Hagglund's pass was stolen by Nigerian DP forward Fanendo Adi who broke costless for an easy touch against Joe Bendik to take an early lead. Less than five minutes later, the other Portland DP Diego Valeri’s shot bounced into the net off TFC Captain Steven Caldwell, and the Timbers seemed to have the match in complete control.
In three minutes time, Michael Bradley fired a costless kick that Caldwell headed in behind Donovan Ricketts but the linesman ruled the play offside, much to the anger of the crowd at BMO Field. Gilberto narrowly missed an open net in a half where TFC could catch no breaks whatsoever.
TFC Head Coach Greg Vanney told VAVEL USA that he said to the team at halftime to "believe in themselves” and that "we are getting the chances and we need to take advantage". The club took that to heart and at the 62 minute mark, a cross from Daniel Lovitz found Hagglund who perfectly headed the ball over Ricketts to cut the Timbers lead in half. Seven minutes later, Michael Bradley’s costless kick through traffic was chipped by Gilberto to Hagglund who headed the ball on a bounce to level the score. When asked by VAVEL USA what the defenders response was to his two goal performance, "Wow" was his answer.
Michael Bradley would then score what was perhaps one of the greatest goals in the seven year history of TFC. At the 88 minute mark, his costless kick from 20 yards outside the box bounced by Ricketts to give TFC the lead and seal perhaps one of the most crucial victories of the year against a talented Portland team who broke down from the resilience of TFC. Bradley clearly took the team on his back leading vocally and by example.
TFC are now tied with the Columbus Crew in points but are ahead in the standings due to victories over the Crew this year and are one point behind 4th place New York Red Bulls. Their next match is against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center in LA on Saturday.
For Portland, the club lost a great opportunity to get breathing room ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps for 5th place in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps are only one point behind the Timbers and have one game in hand. Next week, the Timbers travel to San Jose to take on the San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium.