The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs have not been short of drama and it was no different today at BMO Field as Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls squared off for their second leg match up. The Red Bulls scored the only goal of the game through a deflected effort but it wasn't enough to stop Toronto advancing to the Eastern Conference final.
Tempers boil over in the first half
When it comes to the soccer itself, Toronto had the better chances during the first half. The first big chance of the half came in the 15th minute when Chris Mavinga stepped into midfield to win the ball and then passed it to an open Víctor Vázquez out wide. The midfielder made his way towards the byline before firing his pass across goal. Luis Robles got a touch to the ball and then Michael Murillo had to make a last-ditch tackle to flick the ball away from the waiting Sebastian Giovinco at the far post. Bradley Wright-Phillips remained a threat with his runs behind and he almost created an opportunity for his team in the 27th minute but his shadow for the day, Drew Moor blocked the cross and sent it out for a corner kick that the Red Bulls could not capitalize on.
As the second half reached its latter stages, the match began to get much more testy. After Giovinco had been brought down for a free kick in the 32nd minute, Jozy Altidore and Tyler Adams squared up to each other and caused a little flare up as players from both teams tried to separate them. During the aftermath of that coming together, Altidore and Sacha Kljestan then got into it with each other and Altidore ended up going down after what looked like a push by Kljestan. The referee, Chris Penso, did nothing more than award both players yellow cards for their part in the melee. Giovinco than had the best chance of the game when he wriggled his way into the penalty area in the 45th minute and with only Robles to beat, sent his shot narrowly wide of the far post. That was the end of the action in the first half and the officiating crew went off to the locker rooms, jeered by the home fans for their alleged favoritism of the Red Bulls for most of their calls.
Wright-Phillips puts the Red Bulls ahead but it's not enough
The second half began with news that both Altidore and Kljestan had received second yellow cards and had thus been sent off at half-time. A fight had broken out in the tunnel just before the second half began involving those two players and the referee decided that enough was enough, and sent both players off. Michael Bradley also received a yellow card for his part in that particular situation.
The break seemed to affect Toronto more than the Red Bulls as the home side were sluggish from the kick off onward. The Red Bulls made them pay for their slow start to the second half when Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the 53rd minute. Aaron Long had won the ball off of Giovinco and passed it Daniel Royer who was in space. The midfielder then tried a speculative long-distance shot that came off of Wright-Phillips, wrong-footing Alex Bono and nestling into the bottom corner. The Red Bulls almost made it two in the 62nd minute when Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo Verón played a one-two between each other which allowed the striker to get into the box. Bono came out quickly to close down the angle and managed to make a huge save to keep the score at just 1-0.
Penso was at the center of attention again in the 78th minute when he disallowed what seemed to be a perfectly good goal for Toronto. A cross came into towards substitute Jonathan Osorio and Adams proceeded to put the ball into his own net. The referee then disallowed the goal for what he deemed a push by Osorio on Adams to cause the goal. In the end, it finished 2-2 on aggregate but it will be the 'Reds' going through to face Columbus Crew SC in the next round of the playoffs while the Red Bulls begin their offseason now.