Jonathan Osorio was the hero for the second game in a row as the Brampton native shot resulted in the winning goal in the 87th minute to lift Toronto FC to a 2-1 victory over the host Halifax Wanderers in Canadian Championship quarterfinal action on Tuesday night.
Osorio scored in the 89th minute on Saturday night to give TFC a 2-2 draw against DC United at Audi Field.
It was not a pretty victory for the Reds by any means, though TFC deserves credit for grinding out a result against a tough Halifax side, playing in front of 6,200 passionate home fans at the Wanderers Ground.
All three goals in the match came in the second half. Michael Bradley scored in the 55th minute to give TFC a 1-0 lead. Sam Salter tied the match for Halifax in the 69th minute with a left-footed shot, a two-bouncer, taken outside of the box that fooled TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who started his first game of the season for the Reds.
With three games this week, TFC coach Bob Bradley started a relatively young lineup against Halifax, leaving a number of key veterans on the bench, including midfielder Osorio, forward Ayo Akinola and Jesus Jimenez. After the young Reds failed to get the job done in the first half — the two sides battled to a 0-0 draw — Bradley substituted all three veterans into the game and the momentum switched to Toronto’s side almost immediately with TFC finally scoring when Perruzza headed the ball towards the goal via a header from a corner kick by Petrasso, that deflected off Bradley.
The Reds have numerous injuries, the biggest missing piece on Tuesday was, again, attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo, who did not dress.
Toronto has won the most Canadian Championships all-time with seven, followed by Montreal with five. A CPL side has never won the Voyageurs Cup. TFC last won the title in 2018, though the Reds do face Forge FC for the 2020 Cup title, which was postponed because of the COVID 19 pandemic, on June 4 in Hamilton. The Canadian Championship winner qualifies for the next season’s Concacaf Champions League.
The 0-0 draw after the first half was certainly a moral victory for the host side. Halifax controlled the game in the early going and had the more sustained attack. Halifax out-shot TFC 5-1 in the opening 45 minutes.
Undoubtedly Bradley would have preferred not to play Jimenez, Osorio and Akinola given that the Reds have three games this week, the next on Saturday night at BMO Field against the visiting Chicago Fire, but they needed a goal and a surge in the second half.
Halifax refused to go away after Toronto’s goal and the fans at the Wanderers Ground ramped up the noise following Salter’s goal as the home side pressed for a second goal.
Halifax almost scored another in the 78th minute when a wide-open Andre Rampersad picked up a pass just to the right of the TFC box and he failed to bury it. And then it Salter had another chance for Halifax just outside the box and his shot from him was deflected just over the goal. Halifax was completely the better side in the final 15 minutes of the match.