2017 Major League Soccer, Semifinals - Eastern Conf
  • Daniel Royer (45'+3' PEN)
  • Víctor Vázquez (8')
  • Sebastian Giovinco (72')
1st Leg
1st Leg

Sebastian Giovinco free kick helps Toronto edge Red Bulls in first leg

Sebastian Giovinco scored from a free kick to help Toronto FC beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 on Monday night in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Victor Vazquez opened the scoring when he put away a rebound in the eighth minute. Following a New York turnover, Vazquez fed Jozy Altidore, whose cross from the right flank ricocheted off goalkeeper Luis Robles to Vazquez near the top of the box for the finish.

New York was held without a shot on target until Bradley Wright-Phillips drew a penalty from a Drew Moor foul, and Daniel Royer equalised from the spot in first-half stoppage time.

But Giovinco delivered the winner in the 72nd minute by drawing a foul conceded by Felipe Martins just outside the box, and then bending the free kick over a four-man wall to make it 2-1.

Red Bulls right-back Michael Amir Murillo made a move to cover the near post, but broke too late to stop Giovinco's shot -- and his failure drew the ire of his captain Sacha Kljestan.

"Well we had a game plan to have Murillo to drop to the line and unfortunately he dropped too late," Kljestan said after the game. "Otherwise if he's there, I think he easily heads that one out. It's the little details that annoy me."

Kljestan also said it wasn't goalkeeper Luis Robles' fault, adding: "It wasn't Luis' job, it was Amir's job to be there. I don't think the wall mattered. I told the wall to jump as high as they could; he still put it over our head. We had a guy who was supposed to be dropping back on the line and able to head that ball back out.

"And the ball entered the goal mid-height. If he's there, he heads the ball out. It's unfortunate; these are the details, especially in the playoffs."

Toronto keeper Alex Bono made each of his three saves in the second half, including a sliding stop after Wright-Phillips slipped behind the defense in the 61st minute and then batting away a header by Kemar Lawrence in the closing moments.

The second leg is Sunday in Toronto. The Reds this season became the first Canadian club to win the Supporters' Shield, setting the MLS single-season record for points with 69.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.