The Five Greatest Toronto FC Road Games

toronto fc road games
Henry Martin of Club America during 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, Leg 2 match between Club America and Toronto FC at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico on 10 April, 2018. (Photo by Ernesto Perez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

EDITORIAL – Toronto FC has had some memorable games on the road. These games included big matches against the Montreal Impact and Atlanta United FC. This list also includes big games in the Concacaf Champions League, which are three of the five games on this list of greatest Toronto FC road games. To find out their five biggest games at BMO Field, read this previous article.

The Five Greatest Toronto FC Road Games

A reminder to all the viewers of this article that this is an opinion piece. TFC fans are going to have different opinions of what the greatest Toronto FC road games in club history actually are.

5. TFC Shocks LA Galaxy – Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals 2012

At this time, TFC had been in MLS for five years and had never made the playoffs. They were heavy underdogs as their quarterfinal opponent, the LA Galaxy were the defending MLS Cup and Supporter’s Shield champions. If someone wanted to bet, the LA Galaxy were overwhelming favourites.

However, in the first leg at Rogers Centre, it looked like TFC would run away in the two-legged series scoring the first two goals. The Galaxy caught up, including scoring a memorable free-kick that led to a late goal by Landon Donovan.

The LA Galaxy dominated the second leg against Toronto FC. However, TFC ended up the winner at the Home Depot Center. Ryan Johnson timed his run perfectly and connected with Joao Plata’s excellent cross to give TFC the 1-0 lead in the 34th minute. Robert Harden would score an own goal in the 55th minute to tie the game 1-1. Then in the 67th minute, TFC scored again. Very similar to their first goal, Johnson created an excellent short cross to Nick Soolsma, who put the shot in the back of the net.

It is fair to say that the LA Galaxy had many chances to score. This included Robbie Keane almost tying the game in the 73rd minute. However, TFC was able to move on and face Santos Laguna in their first-ever Concacaf Champions League semifinals.

Toronto FC in the 2012 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals

TFC would then play Santos Laguna in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. The home leg at Rogers Centre was tied 1-1. In the second leg in Mexico, it looked like TFC could actually go to the Concacaf Champions League Final as the aggregate was tied 2-2 at half-time.

With Toronto FC scoring more away goals than Santos Laguna, they were well on their way to make their first-ever Concacaf Champions League final. However, in the second half, they collapsed and gave up four goals to give Santos Laguna a 6-2 win over Toronto FC. At that point in TFC’s history, they were very few highlights at the time, which included the “Miracle in Montreal” in the 2009 Canadian Championship.

4. The Miracle in Montreal – TFC vs. Montreal Impact 2009

The History of the Canadian Championship

In the early years of the Canadian Championship, there were only two-three teams in the Canadian Championship. The lone exception was 2002-2004 when the Calgary Storm existed, and in 2004, when the Edmonton Aviators also existed.

Besides those two teams, the Canadian Championship participants were the big three cities in Canada: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Toronto FC is the successor of the Toronto Lynx who represented Canada’s most populous city from 2002-2006 in the Canadian Championship.

Toronto FC’s first Canadian Championship appearance in 2008 ended in disappointment. They ended up being runner ups to the USL iteration of the Montreal Impact, who won their seventh straight Canadian Championship. In 2009, TFC was in trouble of losing to another USL First Division Team, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

In 2009, the Canadian Championship format was quite different than the current format of the Canadian Championship. Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact, and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC played one home and road game against each other.

TFC was able to win both home games against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Montreal Impact, 1-0. However, they lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 at Swangard Stadium. The Whitecaps also won 2-0 at Saputo Stadium and 1-0 at Swangard Stadium against the Montreal Impact.

These results meant that TFC had to win by at least four goals against the Montreal Impact to win the Canadian Championship. This feat looked daunting as TFC was looking at losing another Canadian Championship to yet another USL First Division team.

Miracle at Saputo Stadium

They had to score at least four goals or more to win the Canadian Championship against the Montreal Impact in Montreal. Miraculously, TFC was able to accomplish these feats winning against the Montreal Impact 6-1.

This game has been nicknamed “The Miracle in Montreal” ever since. Anthony Donatelli scored the first goal for the Montreal Impact via a penalty shot before TFC scored six straight goals, including a hat-trick by Dwayne De Rosario at Saputo Stadium.

Expectations at Saputo Stadium

MLS broadcaster for TSN Luke Wileman talks about the game:

“It was a strange night because I don’t think anyone even the most ardent Toronto FC fan deep down really thought they could do what they needed to do which was win by four goals to win the Canadian championship and then what is referred to as the miracle in Montreal.”

This was also the first time the Canadian Championship was won by a team other than the Montreal Impact. It was TFC’s first of four consecutive Canadian Championships won. Lastly, this was TFC’s first real silverware that they won in their franchise. De Rosario talks about the expectations of the game:

“Realistically we shouldn’t have no business even even even having a chance that came but you know we went outside for work to warm up and won and I looked up and saw the fan support I was like man we got a figure away to come out this game with the win.”
Wileman then followed that by saying this:
“Vancouver Whitecaps were even in the stands because they were playing in Montreal a few days later their players were expecting to be able to lift the trophy at the end of that game.”

Why this Game was Not Higher on the List

This game was not higher on the list because both the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC were in the USL first division. This meant they were a tier down from MLS, considered the best league in Canada and the US. This is why while the result was not expected, it was also not shocking.

The other three results that TFC was able to accomplish were a much bigger deal in both Concacaf and in MLS. However, this does not take away from what TFC was able to accomplish in 2009. It would also serve as the beginning of TFC’s rivalry with both the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

3. Toronto FC Upsets Atlanta United FC in the 2019 MLS Eastern Conference Finals

Toronto FC Had a Terrible Start

Very few people gave TFC a shot at defeating defending MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United FC. Toronto FC were also heavy underdogs as they had to face Josef Martinez. Martinez, who plays for Atlanta United FC, scored 29 goals in 2019 and 34 goals in 2018.

This game early on was looking like a disaster for TFC. They gave up an early goal to Julian Gressel, who got a pass from Pity Martinez in only the third minute of play. Then four minutes later Pity Martinez was taken down by a TFC player causing a penalty to be called.

If Atlanta scored the penalty, there would be little hope for TFC to advance to their third MLS Cup Finals appearance in four years. Instead, Quentin Westberg stopped the penalty, which ended up changing the game completely.

Toronto FC Turns the Game Around

Nicolas Benezet had the ball near the Atlanta net but at the wrong angle. From this angle, Benezet was able to get a shot off that beat Brad Guzan and tied the game 1-1. Then in the 77th minute, Nick DeLeon created magic. He scored a fantastic goal at the top corner to give TFC the 2-1 win. It can be said that Atlanta was the better team, but TFC played excellent defence and was able to weather the storm.

Toronto FC go to the 2019 MLS Cup Final

TFC was able to pull another upset defeating higher seeds New York City FC and Atlanta United FC. Unfortunately, TFC was unable to win the MLS Cup in 2019. They looked like the better team in Seattle until Seattle Sounders FC scored their first goal. After that goal, Seattle gained momentum and scored two more goals before Jozy Altidore scored a consolation goal late in the game.

As impressive as TFC’s win was over Atlanta, the two results against Tigres UANL and Club América were even more impressive. This included Toronto FC getting past Tigres UANL. TFC won the first leg 2-1 at BMO Field before playing their second leg at Estadio Universitario in the greater metropolitan Monterrey area.

2. MLS Champion vs. Liga MX Champion – 2018 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals

One of the greatest match ups of all-time, the defending MLS Champion, Toronto FC faced Tigres UANL, the defending Liga MX champion. It was a back and forth game as TFC scored the first goal via an own goal. Sebastian Giovinco then in typical fashion scored a goal through a free-kick to give TFC the 2-1 lead.

Tigres UANL did score two goals with André-Pierre Gignac scoring two late goals to win the game 3-2. This also tied the aggregate 4-4, however, TFC had more away goals than Tigres UANL and advanced to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League.

MLS teams traditionally had trouble against Liga MX sides throughout their history. For TFC to get past Tigres UANL, the defending Liga MX Champions was a huge MLS victory. It showed that MLS teams can compete and possibly win at home against Mexican teams. This is something Toronto FC also did against Club América.

1. Toronto FC vs.Club América – Concacaf Champions League Semifinals 2018

Tigres UANL may have been the Liga MX Champions, but Club América is the most storied and successful franchise in Concacaf history. Everyone remembers what Club América did to the Montreal Impact in 2015. The Impact was 45 minutes away from winning their first-ever Concacaf Champions League title. Then Club América took control in the second half and won their Concacaf Champions League title on Canadian soil.

As mentioned earlier, Toronto FC fans experienced a similar breakdown when they faced the Santos Laguna in the 2012 Concacaf Champions League semifinals. Even with TFC winning 3-1 against Club América at BMO Field in the first leg, there was always a fear of a collapse in the second leg in Mexico. However, the game turned out quite different. Although Club América had a lot more shots, Toronto FC had complete control over the game and the series.

Jonathan Osorio scored an early goal for Toronto FC in the 12th minute to give TFC the commanding 3-0 aggregate lead. Mateus Uribe did score a penalty in the 92nd minute, but the damage had already been done. TFC was heading to their first-ever Concacaf Champions League final.

Toronto FC at the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Final

TFC agonizingly lost in penalty kicks to Club Deportivo Guadalajara in the Concacaf Champions League. However, TFC showed all MLS teams that they can compete and win against Liga MX teams. Getting past a Liga MX Champion and the most decorated team in Concacaf history is an extremely rare feat for an MLS team to accomplish and TFC was able to do that.

Toronto FC and their Five Greatest Games Review

Toronto FC Road Games that Missed the Cut

Toronto FC had many great games played on the road in their history. From the Miracle in Montreal in 2009, they went on to win two consecutive Concacaf Champions League match-ups against Liga MX sides. TFC was able to get results and win Championships and advance to the next round.

Some games that just missed the cut were the Toronto FC vs. New York City FC MLS eastern conference semifinals and the Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact leg one MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals game. The reason why the TFC-LA Galaxy was ranked a bit higher was the circumstances surrounding the result. Toronto FC were heavy underdogs on both occasions.

The 2019 NYCFC-TFC Eastern Conference Semifinals Almost Made the Cut

The difference was Toronto FC in 2012 experienced very few highlights in their franchise. In 2019, Toronto FC had success before the 2019 MLS Eastern Conference semifinals. When TFC won against the LA Galaxy in 2012, it was the first taste of real success against formidable opposition on the road.

Another game that almost made it was Toronto FC vs. New York City FC leg two in the 2016 MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals. TFC won that game 5-0 and the overall aggregate 7-0.

The Miracle in Montreal will also be remembered as a great moment in TFC history.  The other three games showed TFC’s resilience. It also showed that Toronto FC always found a way to get a result on the road in MLS and Concacaf, and few MLS teams can accomplish that feat.

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