When the Eastern Conference final kicks off next Tuesday, Toronto FC will be without two of their key strikers.
Designated Players Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore will miss the first leg of the series versus Columbus. Both players demonstrated misconduct in the series against the New York Red Bulls and now must serve suspensions.
Giovinco’s suspension, due yellow card accumulation, was never in question, but Toronto appealed the red card given to Altidore during a halftime violent encounter with Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
Head Coach Greg Vanney and his staff argued that Altidore was “not at fault” when the striker got into the altercation with Kljestan in the tunnel of their second leg match at BMO Field following a confrontation on field during the first half.
Vanney and his staff submitted footage of the incident, but the independent panel could not find enough information to overturn the referee’s decision from the game.
“Jozy's suspension has been upheld," Vanney told reporters on Wednesday. "The referees had given him a red card, so the burden of proof was on us to prove that it wasn’t. We weren’t able to do that with video we provided because there were still some gaps in the video."
With Giovinco and Altidore suspended, TFC will be without the players who were responsible for just over 42 percent of the team’s goals in the regular season.
Give the importance of away goals in the playoffs and Toronto’s significant drop in offensive production with Altidore and Giovinco’s suspensions, this provides Columbus Crew SC with a prime opportunity to grab an early advantage in the first leg on Nov. 21st at MAPFRE Stadium.
Toronto did face Columbus without both Giovinco and Altidore once this season. That game was a 5-0 loss for the Black & Gold at BMO Field in late May.