With a 2-0 lead heading into Sunday, Toronto FC were confident that they could qualify for the Eastern Conference Finals. New York City FC probably had dreams of scoring an early goal, but the tie was over just six minutes in, when they conceded a goal to Sebastian Giovinco. TFC added four more goals for good measure, while Giovinco contributed a hat trick, helping Toronto run out 5-0 winners on the night and 7-0 victors on aggregate.
Jozy Altidore helped out Giovinco on the opening goal, holding up the ball and playing a great pass into the Italian's feet. But the special part of the goal was Giovinco's second touch to beat the defender in front of him, setting up an easy finish.
Just like that, there was no reason to believe that NYCFC had a chance to mount a comeback, and things fell apart from there. In the 20th minute, Frederic Brillant stuck out his leg and tripped Giovinco in the box, giving away a penalty. He converted himself, making it 4-0 on aggregate.
Altidore grabbed a goal to go with his assist in the 30th minute, and did so in impressive fashion, powering a volley into the back of the net off a long ball forward by Eriq Zavaleta.
TFC could have pumped the brakes in the second half, but they came out with their foot pushing the accelerator to the floor and tacked on another goal in the 50th minute. Giovinco set up the move with a brilliant through ball into the box for substitute Will Johnson, who touched the ball to Jonathan Osorio, and he had an easy finish.
NYCFC pushed forward for a consolation goal, though they failed to generate any clear-cut chances. Giovinco added a stoppage time goal for good measure, completing his hat trick and NYCFC's embarrassment.
New York City FC: Eirik Johansen; Ronald Matarrita, Maxime Chanot, Frederic Brillant, RJ Allen (Khiry Shelton 46'), Andrea Pirlo (Federico Bravo 74'), Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard, Tommy McNamara (Tony Taylor 56'), David Villa, Jack Harrison
Toronto FC: Clint Irwin; Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow, Michael Bradley, Armando Cooper (Will Johnson 46'), Steven Beitashour (Mark Bloom 65'), Jonathan Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore (Tosaint Ricketts 73')
Goals: Giovinco (6', penalty 20', 90'), Altidore (30'), Osorio (50')
Giovinco's MVP snub looks so ridiculous -- Giovinco's numbers were less eye-popping this year than last. He was still third in goals and second in assists, and was the only player in MLS to make the top five in both categories. And yet, he was not one of the three finalists in MVP voting. It's ridiculous that this happened, and Giovinco proved it with three dominant playoff performances.
TFC have a killer mentality -- Following one decent shot by Tony Taylor in the 84th minute, TFC goalkeeper Clint Irwin yelled "LET'S KEEP THAT ZERO" at his defense. They took him seriously and didn't allow another shot after that. They had every reason to switch off, but the clean sheet was important to them. It's a good sign heading into the final four.
Time for a re-think at NYCFC -- Between this beating, their 57 goals allowed during the regular season, and the constant injuries to older players, it's clear that the current formula at NYCFC isn't a championship one. Patrick Vieira appears to be a very competent coach, but he wants to play an up-tempo style, and he hasn't been given the personnel to do it effectively. It's time to move on from Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo and seek out some Designated Players in their 20s.