Dec. 1, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 MLS CUP BRACKET
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Former University of Notre Dame men's soccer captain Justin Morrow ('10) and Toronto FC officially advanced to the 2016 MLS Cup Final following a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Impact on Wednesday. Toronto FC outscored Montreal 7-5 in the aggregate goal count over the two-leg Eastern Conference Championship, rebounding from a 3-2 loss in leg one to become the first Canadian side to reach the MLS title match in league history.
Toronto FC remains home at BMO Field to face the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. (ET) on FOX. Seattle claimed the Western Conference Championship by way of a 3-1 aggregate goal margin after defeating former Notre Dame standout Dillon Powers ('13) and the Colorado Rapids 1-0 last Sunday in leg two of the conference final.
Following a career year during the 2016 regular season, Morrow made his presence known for Toronto FC during the final leg of the Eastern Conference series. Morrow was credited with the primary assist on the game-winning goal by Nick Hagglund in the 68th minute of Wednesday's match against Montreal, ultimately playing the full 120 minutes of the victorious knockout contest. Another former Notre Dame captain, Harrison Shipp ('13), entered the match for Montreal as a substitute in the 103rd minute.
Morrow tallied a career-high five goals and four assists over 31 matches in his third regular season with Toronto FC in 2016, his seventh MLS campaign overall. The veteran defender has started all five MLS Cup matches thus far this postseason, registering his lone point on the game-winning tally in the conference final. In 165 regular season MLS appearances (155 starts) split between Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes (2010-13), Morrow has scored nine goals and added 15 assists.
Victory in the 2016 MLS Cup Final would make Morrow the fourth player with Notre Dame ties to be part of an MLS champion organization since 2006. Kevin Goldthwaite ('05) was a member of the 2006 cup-winning Houston Dynamo, before United States Men's National Team veteran Matt Besler ('09) hoisted the league trophy with Sporting KC in 2013. Nick Besler ('15) had just completed his rookie season as part of the Portland organization when the Timbers claimed the 2015 MLS Cup title last December.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men's soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.