Editorial — BMO Field and Toronto FC were both born in 2006. Toronto FC became the first and, at that time, the only first division team in Canada. The old first-tier Canadian Soccer League was just a living memory in 2006. Furthermore, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps were in the second U.S. division at the time.
The significance of the creation of BMO Field in 2016 cannot be overstated. It was the first FIFA-sized soccer-specific stadium in Canada. BMO Field even holds its own as its one of only two soccer-specific FIFA sized stadiums in Canada. The other one exists presently with Stade Saputo (also known as Saputo Stadium) for the Montreal Impact.
BMO Field has seen a lot for two decades serving Toronto FC soccer. This includes the Reds winning their MLS Championship, hosting the Concacaf Champions League Final and their first-ever home game.
This article will look at the top five moments to ever take place at BMO Field. Keep in mind, these games cover games only played at BMO Field, and does not cover memorable matches that were played at the Rogers Centre. Also, this list also does not include matches that Toronto lost or tied. This includes their first-ever home game against the Kansas City Wizards and their MLS Cup loss in 2016.
5. Sebastian Giovinco clinches first-ever MLS Playoff spot for Toronto FC at BMO Field – Oct. 14, 2015
Giovinco, considered by many as one of the greatest Toronto players of all-time, did something special in 2015. A day after playing for his Italian side, he went on the airplane and was ready to play.
“He texted immediately after the game last night, he texted before he got on the plane, he texted before he landed, he hit me up as soon as he got here and he said he was going to play,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said to Global News. “He was ready to play and so when I think a player like that knows himself well enough then I wanted him to touch the field.”
Giovinco scored a wonder goal after going past through several New York Red Bulls players. This goal gave Toronto a 2-0 lead, but proved to be the game-winner. Shaun Wright-Phillips scored for the Red Bulls in the 86th minute. Credit should also be given to Herculez Gomez who scored the other goal for Toronto.
This match was also special in that Toronto was facing the Red Bulls, one man, down for most of the game. Jozy Altidore picked up a red card in the 34th minute and had their hands tied behind their back.
They were also facing a tough Red Bulls team that ended up finishing first in the Eastern Conference. It was a memorable game. Another goal I will never forget was Altidore’s clinical goal against Trillium Cup rivals, Columbus Crew SC.
4. Jozy Altidore scores while being injured – 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Finals Leg 2
Toronto faced their first MLS rival Columbus Crew SC in the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Final. Both teams were similar at this point. They each hosted the MLS Cup Final, only to lose to eventual champions the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC, respectively.
However, the teams were facing very different circumstances at the time. In 2017, Toronto had the most points in MLS history along with the Supporter’s Shield and the Canadian Championship. Meanwhile, in Columbus, there were constant rumors of the team moving to Austin, Texas. They were also fifth in the Eastern Conference and a heavy underdog throughout the playoffs.
One problem was Altidore had a one-game suspension from the previous playoff round. He served that suspension in the first leg in Columbus. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. Then, in the second leg against Columbus, he got injured midway through the game.
Then in the 60th minute, it happened. Altidore scored the goal that ended with Toronto heading to their second MLS Cup Finals appearance. A lot of credit should be given to Giovinco and Victor Vazquez. They were both vital for Altidore to score that goal.
However, the Montreal Impact rivalry means much more. There may never be other playoffs match-ups like the 2016 MLS Eastern Conference Finals between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact. The winner of this match was Canada’s first-ever MLS representative to reach the MLS Cup Final.
3. 2016 MLS Eastern Conference Finals – Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact Leg 2
Toronto and Montreal have a long history that few cities in North America have. Montreal was once the largest city in Canada before Toronto overtook them in the 1970s. There is also a rivalry between its sports teams in Canadian football and ice hockey in addition to soccer. They were also the only two teams in MLS sponsored by BMO (Bank of Montreal). This only made the rivalry fiercer.
Toronto came into this game losing 2-3 in aggregate. At Olympic Stadium in Montreal, the Impact scored three goals before Toronto scored two goals in leg 1. Those two goals gave Toronto FC life at BMO Field. It also was one of the most memorable playoff series of all-time.
Toronto was behind in aggregate 2-4 after Dominic Oduro scored for the Montreal Impact. However, two goals from Armando Cooper and Altidore tied aggregate 4-4. Ignacio Piatti, one of Impact’s best players in franchise history, scored a goal that trickled past the line. The game was tied 2-2, with the Impact winning the aggregate 4-5.
Toronto FC needed an unlikely hero to give them a chance to win in extra time or penalties. That guy was Nick Hagglund, who headed in the cross from Justin Morrow into the goal.
Toronto clinched the series with goals from Benoit Cheyrou and Tosaint Ricketts in extra-time. Then, they headed into their first-ever MLS Cup Final in 2016 at BMO Field. Unfortunately, former Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei was there to prevent the Reds from winning the MLS Cup in 2016. The Sounders and Toronto FC faced each other again in the 2017 MLS Cup Finals.
2. 2017 MLS Cup Finals – Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Toronto won all the trophies in 2017. This included winning the Supporter’s Shield, the Canadian Championship and the MLS Eastern Conference Championship. In 2017, they also had the most points in franchise history.
This time in the MLS Cup Final, Toronto made no mistake.
After Frei was holding the fort yet again, he could do nothing on the first goal. Giovinco’s pass to Altidore was perfect for the first goal. Altidore got the ball dribbled it inside the box and scored. However, what many people may have missed was that it was a team goal. Drew Moor explains it in more detail to Major League Soccer:
“It’s funny because I remember when Josie was in on goal when I saw him on a breakaway what was going through my head was how quickly we got the ball to that side of the field.” Moor said to MLS. “And not a lot of people talk about the fact that 10 total touches between seven different players.”
The second goal by Toronto in the dying seconds of the game was scored by Vazquez. However, a lot of credit should be given to Cooper hit the post and landed onto Vazquez’s feet for the easy goal.
The 2017 Toronto FC team means a lot to TFC fans, as they are so far the only team to win the MLS Cup outside of the U.S. The only other game that had a similar sentiment was May 12, 2007. Danny Dichio scored the first-ever goal for Toronto in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire.
1. May 12, 2007: Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire
The second-ever Toronto FC MLS game is the most memorable game for many fans. Maurice Edu and Edson Buddle should be given credit for the passes they connected. Then the pass from Buddle to a diving Dichio gave Toronto a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal scored by a Toronto player in MLS history. Toronto ended up winning the game 3-1 with additional goals from Kevin Goldthwaite and Edu to win the game.
This game means a lot for many Toronto FC fans today. There is a tribute song to Dichio in every Toronto home game in the 24th minute. This is to celebrate Dichio’s goal, which was scored 23:13 mark at BMO Field. Dichio remembers that goal fondly.
It was also a wild game as 43 fouls and two red cards were called in the game. This included Dichio getting a red card.
Time to work! pic.twitter.com/Mapy83pzup
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) February 22, 2020
Overview of Toronto FC’s Top Five games at BMO Field
From Dichio scoring the first-ever goal to winning the MLS Cup in 2017, there have been lots of highlights at BMO Field for Toronto FC. All five of these games were memorable one way or another. Some notable games just missed the cut. This included Toronto’s first-ever MLS playoff win against the Philadelphia Union in 2016.
Another notable game was the Canadian Championship final against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2016. Will Johnson scored the game-winning goal that led them a ticket to the 2017 Concacaf Champions League. However, it’s also true that Johnson got a major injury in the play and didn’t seem right to put in the top five moments in TFC history.
Lastly, other games like the 2012 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals against LA Galaxy took place at Rogers Centre, not BMO Field. It was one of the most memorable games in Toronto FC history and the second-biggest in 2012.
Overall, there were several great moments at BMO Field for Toronto FC through two different decades. Now as Toronto FC heads into their third decade in 2020 next week, many more moments will be created. Read more about Toronto’s schedule here.