OTTAWA – Toronto FC is right where they want to be after the opening leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal.
Jonathan Osorio scored in the fifth minute as Toronto downed the Ottawa Fury 1-0 on the road in the first leg on Wednesday.
Toronto claimed an important road goal in the opening match, and will host the second leg at BMO Field July 25.
“For us we met our objective for the night. Tonight we got the shutout, we got the away goal so we’re leaving pleased,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney.
“We set ourselves up with the position to try and finish the series at home next week.”
The game was delayed for a couple of minutes late in the second half when TFC supporters set off flares and smokes bombs that led to fires in the stands, with one making its way on the pitch before quickly being extinguished by stadium security.
Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group issued a statement following the match saying that, ‘No fans were injured in the incident and the perpetrators were ejected from the building,’ before adding that Ottawa Police have opened an investigation.
“All members of the visiting supporters group had been subjected to bag checks and security scans prior to entering the stadium and no fireworks or other devices were detected… Ottawa Police have launched an investigation into the incident,” the statement said.
Vanney apologized on behalf of TFC in his post-match media scrum.
“On behalf of the club we are embarrassed about the incident in the stands and obviously it will be looked at by the match commissioner and they will handle it appropriately,” said Vanney.
“From the perspective of the team side it turned into an embarrassing scene, so we apologize from our side.”
Toronto FC left several of their starters at home on Wednesday, including midfielders Michael Bradley and Victor Vazquez, defender Gregory van der Wiel and Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco. This despite the fact they have just four wins in 19 MLS games this season.
None of that really mattered though as Osorio opened the scoring to give TFC an early lead.
Osario took a pass from Ryan Telfer and deposited the ball just past the outstretched fingers of Fury ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau just inside the left post.
“I didn’t really see the ball until it got close to me and we’re behind after just five minutes. We were pushing to get the tie, to our credit, it was just too bad that we were behind,” Crepeau said.
“It was frustrating, but we have another 90 minutes that can change everything. We know it’s going to be difficult in Toronto, and it will be in difficult conditions, but we’ll give it our all.”
That was the only shot attempt by Toronto FC in the first half. The Fury had two, but one was wide of the target and the other was blocked.
Kevin Oliveira had two shots on goal early in the second half for the Fury but both were handled by Clint Irwin in the Toronto goal. He was making just his fifth start of the season.
“The game was even and I can’t say that there was one team that was dominating,” Fury coach Nikola Popovic said.
“What was clear today is that they’re a team with lots of qualities. Some of their superstars didn’t come, but it’s not by accident that this team went to finals of CONCACAF Champions League and MLS Cup. To do this, you need more than 11 good players. We have different dimension than Toronto. I think what we did today was even and we fought shoulder to shoulder with them. Didn’t see too much difference.”
Steevan Dos Santos had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the 85th minute as he got his head on a cross from Onua Obasi but Irwin made the save right on the goal line.
The Fury continued to press over the dying minutes, including four minutes of extra time, but were unable to break through.
TFC won the Voyageur Cup in 2017, defeating the Fury in the semifinals. Following a 2-1 road loss in the first leg, Toronto FC were 4-0 winners on their home pitch in the second leg. They then defeated the Montreal Impact 3-2 on aggregate.
It was their second straight Canadian Championship, giving them a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this year. They advanced to the final of that event but fell to Mexico’s C.D. Guadalajara 4-2 in a penalty shootout after the two legs were tied 3-3 on aggregate.