TORONTO - Toronto FC took one step closer to a place in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 win on Saturday evening over Philadelphia Union. The defeat, meanwhile, eliminates Philadelphia from post-season considerations.
Later results from the match between the Montreal Impact and Orlando City will determine whether Toronto must wait for next weekend to clinch.
After a slow start in which neither team could find their footing on a wet and wind-swept pitch, Toronto took the lead in the 28th minute, once more thanks to Sebastian Giovinco.
Philadelphia could not contain the darting movement of the Italian and his teammates, who bossed large stretches of possession, forcing the Union into repeatedly conceding fouls around the edge of the area. It was one such challenge on Jozy Altidore, having turned past C.J. Sapong wide on the right, that set up the free-kick opportunity.
Giovinco stood over the ball, sending a right-footed effort towards goal. Ray Gaddis leaped to block the attempt, only to see the ball skid off his back, looping up high into the air before nestling it at the far side past a helpless Andre Blake.
It was Giovinco's 21st goal of the season, marking his call-up to the Italian national team and paying homage to the Toronto Blue Jays (and rapper Lil B) with his goal celebration.
Giovinco would nearly add a second goal from a dead ball, but Blake was equal to the task, preventing it from finding the top left-corner in the 42nd minute.
Still reeling from the effects of the midweek shootout loss to Sporting KC in the US Open Cup Final, the Union, having made near-wholesale changes, struggled to trouble TFC. They waited until the 52nd minute to get their first shot – a long-range free-kick from Cristian Maidana easily handled by Chris Konopka at that.
Altidore would make it two for the hosts in the 63rd minute, pouncing when a Marky Delgado cross from the right fell kindly to him inside the area. He then corralled the ball and beat Blake with a low shot back against the grain.
Philadelphia, having introduced several absent starters, would pull one back in the 66th minute, when local boy Steven Vitoria rose up to get on the end of a deep Maidana cross at the left-post, flicking a header past Konopka, to make a game of the remaining time. The goal also marked Vitoria's first in MLS.
An own-goal in the 91st minute would close out the result, with Richie Marquez touching a Jonathan Osorio cross into the gaping net, would close out the result; a third-straight home win and a season sweep of the Union for TFC.
Both teams are off next weekend, but Toronto returns the following midweek for a fourth-straight home match on Wednesday, October 14, against the New York Red Bulls. Philadelphia too will face the Red Bulls next, the following Sunday, October 18.