TORONTO (AP) – Jozy Altidore scored in the 60th minute and Toronto FC advanced to the MLS Cup final for the second straight year with a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final.
Toronto will host the Seattle Sounders or Houston Dynamo in the Dec. 9 MLS Cup final. The Sounders, who took the title from Toronto in a penalty shootout last year, lead the Western Conference final 2-0 going into Game 2 in Seattle on Thursday night.
After a scoreless tie in Game 1 last week in Ohio, Columbus needed a win or draw with goals to advance. But Altidore, limping on a bum ankle, came through fort Toronto before a sellout crowd of 30,392 on a crisp night at BMO Field.
The goal started with Alex Bono’s goal kick that found Sebastian Giovinco deep in Columbus territory. The diminutive Italian held off several defenders and backheeled the ball to Altidore, who stabbed it to Victor Vazquez. The Spanish midfielder paused and then dinked a pass to Altidore for a right-footed shot past Zack Steffen.
It was Toronto’s first goal in 258 minutes. The last score came almost a month ago – on Oct. 30, via Giovinco’s free kick in the 72nd minute of a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena.
Columbus striker Ola Kamara nearly tied it in the 87th minute, but couldn’t get a boot to the ball on a raking cross. Bono then beat Kamara to a cross in stoppage time.
Altidore had seemed destined for an early night after suffering an ankle injury in the 50th minute in a collision with Crew wingback Harrison Afful. The big man needed treatment on and off the field and Toronto prepared to send in substitute Armando Cooper.
But Altidore stayed on, finally limping off eight minutes after the goal.