Giovinco scores twice as Toronto FC extends unbeaten streak with win over Impact

Toronto FC has been winning a lot this year, but success appears to taste a bit better when it is against the Montreal Impact.

TFC, the runaway leaders in Major League Soccer this year, got a pair of goals from Sebastian Giovinco and another from Jozy Altidore as they downed the Impact 3-1 before a complete house of 20,801 in Saputo Stadium on Sunday.

Toronto (16-3-8) extended its unbeaten run to nine matches, set a team record with 56 points in a season with seven games to play, and remained on course to create the best regular season record in MLS history.

“You get to this time of the year and points are significant, along with the intensity, the pace and the value of each game gets cranked up a couple of notches,” said TFC captain Michael Bradley. “We are giving everything to attempt and win the Supporters Shield (regular season tournament) and do it as fast as dominantly as possible.

“But of course, games against Montreal always carry a small amount of extra weight{}”

Another prize was quitting Montreal’s four-game winning streak and making life complicated for its Impact (10-9-6), that are in a battle merely to make the playoffs. The teams meet twice more this year on Sept. 20 and Oct. 15 in Toronto.

The competition between Canada’s two largest cities hit an all-time large last November when TFC came out along with a wild Eastern Conference final, scoring two in overtime of the next leg of this two-game string to win 7-5 on aggregate. Toronto won again with a 3-2 aggregate when they met in Canadian cup play in June.

“It is exciting for the league, it is exciting for soccer in North America and Canada, because some of the matches and the spectacles people are treated to have been phenomenal,” said Bradley. “We have got two more in this next stretch and who knows, maybe a couple more in November.”

Impact fans were ready for another intense experience. Some raised a banner before the game teasing Giovinco via a string emojis.

The French answered them in the 41st minute.

The audience booed when Altidore offered a heavy fall to the floor to referee Robert Sibiga when he sensed Blerim Dzemaili’s hands on his back, giving Toronto a free kick from about 22 metres before the Montreal goal.

Giovinco, the league’s most dangerous dead ball kicker, left goalkeeper Evan Bush no chance because he curled it on the wall and inside the near post. The Italian mimicked an emoji by pretending to wipe tears away within his party.

“It is impossible to see,” Bush said of Giovinco’s free kicks. “Last week he hit it to the goalkeeper’s side against Philadelphia and this week he goes over the wall, so that you can not cheat either way.

“You just can not give up fouls in these areas because it is just like a layup for him{}”

With Montreal pressing attack to begin the second half, Victor Vazquez captured Montreal napping with a lengthy throw-in down the right side for Marky Delgado. The midfielder sent a cross to the middle for Altidore to divert past Bush in the 52nd minute for his 11th goal.

That prompted the cluster of approximately 200 Toronto fans from the east grandstand to pull out a banner that read ‘Say hello to the league leaders{}’

Ignacio Piatti got his 15th goal for Montreal in additional time on a pass from Dzemaili off a free kick, only to see Giovinco get it back a minute later with a sleek left-foot volley for his 15th of the effort.

The Impact end a four-game homestand Saturday against Chicago, when they expect to get back on course.

“We’ve got games in hand on the teams we are pursuing and when we take care of business the way we will need to, we will be in the playoffs,” said Bush. “We can not look ahead to enjoying these guys again. We must focus on the next game{}”

TFC, which spanned a series of three games in an eight-day period, including two from home, enhanced its league-best road record to 6-3-5.

Montreal had an early chance when Nicolas Hasler was called for a hand ball just beyond the Toronto playground. Alex Bono made a diving save as Dzemaili blasted it through the wall and Matteo Mancosu could not handle the rebound.

TFC is off before a Sept. 9 home game against San Jose.

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