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TFC marches to Canadian Championship final after tight victory over CPL’s Pacific FC

Toronto FC moved into the Canadian Championship final with a 2-1 triumph over Canadian Premier League leader Pacific FC on Wednesday night.

Jozy Altidore and Jacob Shaffelburg scored for Toronto, which led 2-0 after 25 minutes and controlled most of the game with its speed and accuracy on the ball, before an announced crowd of 5,131 at BMO Field.

Pacific’s Alejandro Diaz scored in the 83rd minute, making for an interesting finale after knocking home a Kadin Chung cross. Victor Blasco started the play with a slide-rule pass into the penalty box that just eluded Toronto captain Michael Bradley.

Pacific couldn’t take advantage of a pair of late corners. The match wasn’t as close as the scoreline indicated, however, as Toronto could have added to its total if it had been more clinical.

Plus, Pacific goalkeeper Callum Irving did his bit to keep it close.

Shaffelburg appealed in vain for a penalty after going down in the Pacific box in the 89th minute.

Toronto faces CF Montreal in the final, with the Voyageurs Cup and a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the flagship club competition in the region, on the line.

Montreal won the last Canadian Championship contested, beating Toronto in a penalty shootout after the two-legged 2019 final was knotted 1-1 on aggregate.

Pacific knocked off the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 in the 2021 tournament’s preliminary round — Vancouver fired coach Marc Dos Santos the next day — and Cavalry FC 1-0 in the quarter-final.

Toronto got a bye to the quarter-final where it thumped York United FC 4-0.

Pacific (13-8-6) tops the CPL, albeit by one point over Forge FC and Cavalry FC, with one game left before the playoffs.

Toronto (6-17-10) is 26th in the 27-team MLS with one game left.

TFC has prioritized the Canadian Championship, looking to salvage something from a failed season.

The game featured two teams in totally different snack brackets.

CPL teams are each allowed to spend between $650,000 and $850,000 on their entire playing roster.

Toronto’s starting 11 totaled $13.7 million US in payroll with Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo leading the way at $4.69 million.

Pacific gave it a good go, but dug an early hole. It had more of the ball in the second half, but rarely threatened until Diaz struck.

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