SC lost Round One in Nashville at Rentsler Field on Tuesday night, using the Daniel Rios game winner in the second half of extra time to record a place in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup, beating Toronto FC 1-0. Playoffs.
Rios scored in the 108th minute after Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg blocked a Honey Mukhtar shot that was initially blocked. Rios ’shot came in an open net and helped Nashville face the finalists of the 2019 MLS Cup, chasing the No. 2 seed and the shield of supporters all season.
Prior to Rios’ count, Nashville (No. 7 seed) players recalled three goals to stay in an offside position. Designated player forward Jonder Cadiz twice thought he would give his team a 1-0 lead, going home in the 13th and 54th minutes after finding holes in the Toronto defense. Mukhtar’s inch-perfect chip was also dismissed in the 100th minute, leaving Michael Bradley with a midfield run and slipping his shot under the crossbar.
If that wasn’t enough, Nashville’s frustration escalated in the second half when both Mukhtar (72nd minute) and Alex Muil (75th minute) missed close distance titles. Mukhtar missed his attempt after Alastair Johnston’s cross from the right, but after Randall Leal took him out, Muil was unable to sneak his title inside the post.
Walker Zimmerman, who amassed a header from the Mukhtar cross in the 90th minute and saw his shot smoked by Westberg in the 91st minute, continued to miss as extra time approached.
Toronto struggled to create many quality chances, but almost scored in the 26th minute through Nick DeLion. The midfielder nailed a Pablo Piatti cross from the right, only to have Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis stop him at the door. The Reds took a 21-10 lead.
- 108 ‘- NSH – Daniel Rios | Watch
- Large image: Toronto FC could have made four trips to the MLS Cup in the last five years. Instead, head coach Greg Vanni’s team is heading out of the playoffs, even as key players like Josie Altidore return to health. The Reds were also exposed for the big particles, and now Nashville will see the contradictions transcend. How far can head coach Gary Smith’s team go?
- Match Moment: Last year, Daniel Rios was playing in the USL Championship. Now, he has scored the biggest goal in SC history in Nashville and sent his team to the next round. What a moment for a second-half substitute who had four regular season goals.
- Man of the Match: Honey Mukhtar was at the heart of most attacking action for Nashville, finishing a game high with six shots. He could certainly have completed a coupe chances, but will be most remembered for creating a late winner.
- TOR: End of season
- NSH: Sunday, November 29, at Columbus Crew SC (8pm ET) | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals