MONTREAL — In the eyes of hometown hero and tournament MVP Dwayne DeRosario, there's little doubt that Toronto FC's miracle win Thursday to claim the Nutrilite Canadian Championship is the biggest victory in the city's soccer history.
"Definitely, because we haven't won anything," DeRosario said. "This is the only victory, but hopefully there's many more to come."
Toronto FC pulled off the near-impossible, surpassing the lofty target of needing a four-goal win, by downing the Montreal Impact 6-1 to snatch the Voyageurs Cup from the grasp of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who were forced to witness the carnage from the stands.
Forward Chad Barrett's second goal of the championship in the 83rd minute made it 5-1 and gave Toronto FC the margin they were desperately looking for to overtake Vancouver for first place in the standings.
"Chad gets hammered, the fans are on him, he's hard on himself and even we hammer him sometimes," said Toronto FC interim coach Chris Cummins.
"What you find with good strikers is that they keep going, and they're thick-skinned as well."
The game set a new franchise high for goals in a game, and to underline the improbability of the result, Toronto FC tripled their goal total from the first three games of the championship in a single night.
"We've criticized ourselves for not scoring enough goals, but we showed tonight we have something special building with the club," Cummins said.
"People say we don't take our chances, but tonight we took our chances."
De Rosario paced the Toronto attack early on with three goals and Amado Guevara notched Toronto's fourth and sixth goals of the game while also earning an assist with a well-struck corner on Barrett's clincher.
DeRosario jumped into the adoring arms of hundreds of jubilant Toronto FC supporters who had made the trip after the final whistle as the Impact dejectedly watched the visitors celebrate on their home field.
Now those fans can get ready for a bigger stage as Toronto will host the Puerto Rico Islanders on July 28 in the opening game of the CONCACAF Champions League.
"The fans were magnificent, and I know there are thousands and thousands more back home," Cummins said. "That's the first bit of silverware for Toronto, and I can assure you it won't be the last."
When the Impact opened the scoring in the game's 23rd minute on a penalty by midfielder Tony Donatelli, Toronto's already daunting task appeared to be almost impossible.
"When they scored I looked around to every guy and not one had his head down," De Rosario said. "That was good to see."
With only pride to play for and with a league game coming up against Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos decided to field a team largely made up of subs, including goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic.
Dos Santos put the responsibility for the loss on his own shoulders, but still ripped the players he selected to play Thursday.
"Even if the game meant nothing to us, you have to honour your city, you have to honour your club," Dos Santos said. "We didn't do that tonight."
Toronto FC took full advantage of the Impact's substitutes, spending a great majority of the contest in the Montreal end and capitalizing on repeated, sloppy errors from the Impact.
"They're professional footballers and nobody likes to lose," Cummins said of the Impact lineup, adding he would have fielded a similar lineup if was he in the same situation.
"We told the team that we wouldn't worry about them, it was all about us tonight."
Nick Garcia, acquired in a trade with the San Jose Earthquakes last week, put Toronto into a deep hole when he took down Impact striker Peter Byers in the box in the game's 23rd minute. Donatelli made no mistake on the ensuing penalty.
However the visitors appeared to be up for the challenge, taking over the first half from that point on and getting multiple chances on the Montreal goal.
Toronto finally broke through in the 29th minute when Djekanovic punched out a Guevara corner right to DeRosario, whose bicycle kick made it through a crowd of Impact defenders to make it 1-1.
DeRosario got his second of the match in the 39th minute with a low laser that glanced off Impact defender Elkana Mayard and past Djekanovic, and he completed his hat trick early in the second half when he was sent in alone in the 49th minute.
Guevara made it 4-1 on a free kick from just outside the box in the 69th minute to set up Barrett's heroics in the 83rd minute as he headed in a corner kick.
Guevara added his second of the game on a neat pass from Barrett in extra time to make it 6-1 Toronto.
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