Toronto FC set up an all-Canadian MLS Eastern Conference final against the Montreal Impact by putting New York City FC to the sword in dramatic fashion Sunday night.
Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat trick and Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio each added a goal for a lopsided 5-0 win before 28,355 at Yankee Stadium as Toronto completed a 7-0 aggregate semifinal victory that must stand as one of the franchise’s finest moments.
It was total domination over a high-scoring New York team that finished one point ahead of Toronto in the regular-season standings. The two-game series may have been tied 0-0 for the first 84 minutes but TFC scored seven unanswered goals in the remaining 96 minutes to thump NYCFC.
Armed with a 2-0 lead from the first leg, Toronto scored in the sixth, 20th and 30th minutes to remove any drama from the tie. New York went into the dressing room at halftime needing six goals to win after a first half that saw Toronto roll like a runaway train.
Another Toronto goal in the 50th minute meant the New Yorkers needed a touchdown to win. But the home side had no answers on the night — with TFC goalkeeper Clint Irwin up to a handful of challenges — as Toronto recorded its first ever post-season win on the road.
Giovinco added a goal in stoppage time to compete the rout as travelling Toronto fans chanted “MVP, MVP.”
Sunday’s results mean a Canadian team will contest the MLS Cup for the first time ever.
Montreal completed its 3-1 aggregate upset of the conference-leading New York Red Bulls earlier Sunday with a 2-1 win on the road.
The conference final does not start until Nov. 22 at Olympic Stadium because of a break for international games. The second leg is Nov. 30 at BMO Field, three days after the Grey Cup.
In addition to their fierce regular-season rivalry, the two Canadian teams have some playoff history. Montreal spoiled Toronto’s post-season debut last year in a lopsided 3-0 win at Saputo Stadium.
TFC joins the Toronto Raptors, Blue Jays and Marlies in making their conference finals in 2016. All three of those teams foundered there, however.
Passed over this week when the three finalists for MVP were named, Giovinco — the reigning MVP — was sublime on the night repeatedly carving open the New York defence.
Giovinco has seven goals and three assists in six career games against NYCFC.