Toronto FC saw its Major League Soccer campaign end Tuesday, dropping a 1-0 extra time decision to Nashville SC in playoff action.
Toronto was heavily favored heading into the game, having finished the regular season with a 13-5-5 record, the second-best in the league.
Nashville’s Daniel Rios scored in the 108th minute to secure the expansion club’s triumph at TFC’s temporary home in East Hartford, Conn.
Toronto defenders tied up Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar in deep, but couldn’t stop the German designated player from getting a shot off. Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg made a stop but couldn’t control the rebound, which Rios tapped in to the net. Westberg had held fast through a Nashville blitz to close out regulation, making a stunning stop on Alex Muyl in the final minute to force extra time. The `keeper had five saves for Toronto.
Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis stopped five on-target shots.
Tuesday marked the first-ever meeting for the two sides, coming after Nashville advanced through the play-in round with a 3-0 victory over Inter Miami CF on Friday.
The upstart club posted an 8-7-8 record in regular-season play, finishing in seventh spot in the East.
Toronto nearly found the back of the net early in extra time when Richie Lareya sent a beautiful ball across the six-yard box to Ayo Akinola, who couldn’t quite catch up to the pass to tap it in.
Mukhtar did ripple the netting for Nashville in the 100th minute, sending a shot high over Westberg and in.
But on the sideline, the offside flag was raised. It was the third time a Nashville goal had been called off in Tuesday’s match.
The visiting squad also appeared to take a lead early in the second half after Auro Jr,. was called for taking down Mukhtar in TFC territory.
Daniel Lovitz took the ensuing free kick, landing a ball on the head of Jhonder Cadiz at the back post. Cadiz headed it in and revealed in the play with his teammates before the goal was called off. Toronto started the game slowly, controlling possession but content to stay outside Nashville’s 18-yard box to begin the game.
Nashville briefly appeared to open the scoring in the 13th minute after Lovitz sent a cross in to Cadiz, who sent a header deep in to the Toronto net. His celebration was quickly cut short by a raised offside flag.
Back at the other end of the field, TFC started to open up the game midway through the half, systematically breaking down the Nashville defense.
A strong back end has been key for Nashville all year and the club conceded just 22 goals in regular-season play.
Nick DeLeon got a prime chance to put Toronto on the board in the 26th minute, putting a hefty shot on net from the top of the six-yard box, but Willis made the save.
TFC controlled possession through the first 45 minutes of the game and had the only shot on target heading into the half. There were some tense moments for Toronto fans watching from home in the 32nd minute, however, when Jonathan Osorio got tangled up with Muyl in the middle of the field. A bit of a skirmish followed and a replay appeared to show Osorio kicking out at the Nashville midfielder. Instead of showing Osorio a red card, referee Robert Sibiga allowed play to continue.