Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Toronto FC defeat FC Edmonton to advance to final
Forward Alan Gordon scored his second goal in Nutrilite Canadian Championship action on Wednesday night to help Toronto FC beat Edmonton FC 1-0 in the second semifinal leg of the tournament in front of 17,937 at BMO Field.
Carrying a 3-0 lead over from the first leg of the series, Gordon’s goal in the 20th minute was the icing on the cake in the 4-0 aggregate win. With the result, TFC advance to the final, where they will meet Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who defeated Montreal Impact 2-1 on aggregate in their semifinal series.
The story of the game was the play of diminutive forward Joao Plata. The 5-foot-3 attacker was all over the field and authored the lone highlight of the night, dribbling in from the left flank before chipping a pass to Gordon, who stayed onside by the tips of his toenails to then slot past FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker.
With a basically insurmountable aggregate lead following Gordon’s goal, the home side appeared to relax, but still held the vast majority of the possession. The gap in quality was evident, as TFC managed to hold FC Edmonton from getting a single scoring chance over the 90 minutes.
As the game lulled, Toronto’s spark continued to be Plata. Much of the attack appeared to go through him and the game’s most inspired moments were off his gifted left foot.
In the 77th minute, Plata was almost rewarded for his strong performance when a broken play resulted in a loose ball falling to him at the top of the 18-yard box. His right-footed strike was pushed just wide of the post by an outstretched Parker. That would be as close as Toronto FC would come to a second goal on the night.
Still, that the lone tally was all enough to give TFC a stranglehold on the series and a ticket to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final, where they will look to win their third straight Voyageurs Cup.
The first leg of that series will take place at Vancouver's Empire Field on Wednesday, May 18, before returning to Toronto for the deciding match on Wednesday, May 25. The winner of the NCC will advance to the preliminary round of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League.