Jozy Altidore celebrates his goal in the 39th minute. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)
TORONTO — Three days after leaving BMO Field with a red card, Jozy Altidore returned to the scene of the crime with a smashing performance to power Toronto FC to the Canadian Championship Wednesday night.
The former Red Bulls striker struck for a hat-trick in a 5-2 triumph over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Toronto FC won the double-leg competition, 7-4. The Reds earned a late 2:2 draw in the opening leg at BC Place in Vancouver Aug. 8.
The win, Toronto FC’s third consecutive victory and seven Canadian trophy, lifted the club into the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
On Sunday, Altidore was dismissed after a foul on New York City FC center back Alex Callens in the 11th minute of the Red Bulls’ 3-2 Major League Soccer loss. Since the Canadian Championship is a different competition, the red card did not affect Altidore’s availability.
In fact, the U.S. international came back with a vengeance in the match, scoring three goals in a 14-minute span on both sides of halftime.
“This was a big night for us because we wanted to get back to Champions League. We also wanted to win the Canadian Championship,” Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney said. “The guys stepped up and played well. Congratulations to Vancouver they’re a good side.”
Canadian Jonathan Osorio was awarded the George Gross Trophy as tournament MVP. Osorio scored three goals, had two assists, and was twice Man of the Match in Toronto’s 2018 Canadian Championship matches.
“As a Canadian it’s really important for me and for this club to participate in this competition every year, and to win three in a row means a lot.” Osorio said. “These are the kind of days that you need to take in and enjoy.”
Toronto FC tallied two quick goals just before halftime. Altidore scored in the 39th minute after a combination play with Osorio and Justin Morrow sprung him through and the striker put it between the goalkeeper’s legs.
Five minutes later Sebastian Giovinco scored a diving header off Osorio’s cross.
Altidore was at it again early and often in the second half scoring in the 49th off a Giovincio cross and in the 53th minute he headed in a Giovinco corner kick.
Kei Kamara slipped through on goal and pulled one back for Vancouver in the 63th and Brek Shea added another at 77th, but Canadian international Tosaint Ricketts scored in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Clint Irwin came up with a huge save late to end the Whitecaps comeback.
“It’s well documented that [Jonathan] is having a phenomenal season. Each year he’s worked his tail off to improve his game and to grow, and you can see that all of these things are coming together,” Vanney said. “He’s played a big part in all our matches this year. You can’t say enough about the year he’s having.”