Giovinco's hat trick inspires Toronto big MLS playoff win
NEW YORK: Sebastian Giovinco scored the fourth hat trick in MLS playoff history as Toronto FC routed New York City FC 5-0 on Sunday to reach the Eastern Conference finals.
With a 7-0 aggregate victory, Toronto set an MLS record for the largest margin of victory in a two-legged series since the league started using the playoff format in 2003.
Toronto will face the Montreal Impact in the conference finals, with Game 1 set for Montreal on Tuesday, November 22. They are the first Canadian teams in league history to reach the conference finals.
Giovinco scored twice in the first 20 minutes, and Jozy Altidore added another first-half goal.
In the 30th, Altidore was the first to Eriq Zavaleta's chipped pass over the defense and he blasted it past the keeper. Jonathan Osor scored in the 50th, and Giovinco capped the scoring in stoppage time with his seventh goal in his last six games.
Montreal edged the New York Red Bulls 2-1 and advanced 3-1 on aggregate, with Ignacio Piatti scoring his second goal of the game in the 85th minute.
Piatti opened the scoring in the 51st minute, powering a left-foot shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls equalized via Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 78th before Didier Drogba drew in two defenders and passed to an unmarked Piatti to score the winner.
The Western Conference championship will feature Colorado against Seattle.
Tim Howard made two saves in the shootout as the Colorado Rapids beat Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1 on penalties to advance.
Steven Gerrard put Los Angeles in front in the shootout, but the Galaxy missed their next three attempts.
The Galaxy won 1-0 at home last week, and the Rapids tied it up with a 1-0 at home in the return leg, courtesy of Shkelzen Gashi's 36th-minute goal.
It will be Colorado's first conference finals appearance since winning the MLS Cup in 2010. The two-game series will open in Seattle on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Seattle advanced 4-2 on aggregate despite a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in Frisco in the return leg.
Dallas, the Supporters Shield winner, was just the third team in MLS history to face a three-goal deficit after the first game in a two-leg series — and no team has come back.