Wednesday, May 31, 2017

{allcanada} Toronto FC cruise past Fury to advance to Canadian final


TORONTO — For Ottawa Fury coach Paul Dalglish, taking on the best team in Major League Soccer was "bigger than David versus Goliath."

"Just to put things in perspective, we don't have one player on our team on the MLS minimum (US$65,000 for a senior player). Not one," said Dalglish.

Toronto FC lived up to its Cadillac billing after a slow start Wednesday, with Tsubasa Endoh scoring a goal and helped create another in a two-minute spurt late in the first half. Substitutes Marky Delgado and Sebastian Giovinco added insurance goals in the 80th and 85th minutes as Toronto won 4-0 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate to reach the Canadian championship final.

Ottawa, which plays in the second-tier USL, beat a weaker Toronto lineup 2-1 in the first leg last week at TD Place Stadium. Dalglish said his players deserved more credit than they got for that win.

"They gave everything ... I want to make sure these guys get the credit they deserve for how hard they worked to try and represent (the) Ottawa Fury and themselves with pride," he said.

Five-time champion Toronto will play three-time winner Montreal for the Voyageurs Cup in the two-legged final June 21 and 27. The Impact dispatched the Vancouver Whitecaps 5-4 on aggregate after a 4-2 victory Tuesday at Saputo Stadium.

Wednesday's game turned after Toronto striker Tosaint Ricketts was forced off in the 34th minute with hamstring tightness. Instead of bringing on a forward, coach Greg Vanney introduced wingback Steven Beitashour and pushed Endoh up the field.

It paid almost immediate dividends as the 23-year-old Japanese forward, released from defensive duties, began to attack before 15,175 on a pleasant evening at BMO Field.

His curling shot was just wide in the 38th minute. Then, after taking a nice pass from Jordan Hamilton and driving to the goal-line, Endoh raked the ball over to the other side of the goal towards teammate Justin Morrow. The ball deflected in off Ottawa defender Eddie Edward for an own goal in the 41st minute.

A minute later, Endoh made a fine run to goal, splitting the defence. Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez spotted him and laid on a perfect cross for Endoh to head past Callum Irving.

Vanney said he brought in Beitashour because he wanted to get more players into attacking areas and could spare a defender because Ottawa was playing with just Tucker Hume up front.

He switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1, which allowed Endoh to play in a more accustomed winger role.

"We had guys in better spots to hurt them and it changed the reference points for them defensively and we started to find opportunities," said Vanney, a cerebral coach with a knack for timely changes.

The rejigging kept Dalglish and his coaching staff busy.

"As coaches we ran out of paper trying to work out how many time they changed systems," he said.

Ottawa started with a 4-3-2-1 formation, providing plenty of bodies to blunt the Toronto attack. And for the first 30 minute, it was hard to tell which was the MLS team.

Normal service resumed late in the half thanks to Endoh.

Giovinco, out since May 13 with a quad strain, came in at the start of the second half in a planned moved. He made an instant impact, with his runs discombobulating the Ottawa defence.

There was more Endoh in the 48th minute but his tap-in somehow squibbed high and came off the crossbar.

In need of goals, Ottawa switched to a more attacking formation. But it was Toronto that came on in waves.

Toronto, which matched its club-record eight-game unbeaten streak with a 5-0 demolition of Columbus last Friday, tops the MLS standings at 8-1-5. Ottawa stands eighth in the USL Eastern Conference at 3-3-3.

It's the second year in a row Ottawa has been unable to complete an MLS upset. The Fury took a 2-0 lead over the Whitecaps at the same stage of the competition last year, before losing the second leg 3-0 in Vancouver.

A week ago in Ottawa, Vanney used just one regular starter (Morrow). His starting 11 had a combined 840 MLS regular-season games — and more than US$1.2 million in salaries — but proved to be an awkward mix.

Vanney fielded five starters this time, including Vazquez.

The Fury had the best early chances with Sito Seoane stopped by Clint Irwin in the 19th minute after a flick on by big targetman Tucker Hume. And the home side needed a desperate slide from Morrow to deflect a Seoane shot over the bar in the 30th minute.

Toronto was without captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore, who are away with the U.S. national team. Wingback Raheem Edwards was suspended.

Toronto won the Canadian championship last year for the fifth time. As such, it thought it had secured entry to the CONCACAF Champions League. But due to a change in tournament format, it will have to win this year's Canadian championship or, if it doesn't, defeat the winner in a one-game playoff to join the CONCACAF club competition.

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