A Tale Of Two Seasons?
Photo: Doneil Henry with one of his several timely tackles on Wednesday.
Toronto FC have been playing parallel seasons.
Their MLS regular season has not gone so well, with eight losses in eight games. Their other season, however, has gone better. They advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals and now they are in pole position in the finals of the Amway Canadian Championship.
Video: Ryan Johnson after Wednesday's match.
The Reds return to the reality of league play on Saturday against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2), but they do so on the heels of a 1-1 road draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday in the first leg of the ACC finals. The away goal gives TFC a slight edge heading into the second leg as they look to make it four Voyageurs Cups in a row.
But for as well as Toronto FC played in Vancouver, they were robbed of the win by a brilliant volley in stoppage time by Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli which canceled out Ryan Johnson's sublime header in the 66th minute.
"The whole league so far has been a killer in the morale, so this is nothing new," Johnson said after the game about the Hassli stunner. "As long as we didn't lose the game, it's the second leg that's the most important thing. We've just got to keep building."
The Vancouver match was the second strong performance in a row by Toronto. They earned their way to the ACC finals with a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact on May 9 at BMO Field despite being reduced to 10 men early in the game when Richard Eckersley received a red card.
"[If] you keep doing the positive things, then you're going to win games like we did [against] Montreal being a man down for so long," Johnson noted. "We just focused on the positive things that we did, our counterattack play, little things like that. We were tough on defense and it came down to one play tonight."
The second leg of the ACC final is set for May 23 at BMO Field (8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet).
"If we just keep the clean sheet I think we'll be OK," Johnson assured. "I definitely think that we can do that. We've been pressuring pretty well and we're going to get chances at home. I'm confident going into the second leg of the championship game, and I'm confident in our guys."