Daniel Rios was the first player Nashville SC signed to a Major League Soccer contract in December 2018. The 25-year-old central striker wasn't brought on board as a designated player, but was asked to prove his worth in America's top flight. Rios did just that against Toronto FC.
Rios scored an extra time rebound goal Tuesday in the 108th minute to secure No. 7 seed Nashville's 1-0 MLS Cup Playoffs first-round upset of No. 2 seed Toronto FC at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut.
Nashville will play at No. 3 seed Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.
— x - Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) November 25, 2020
Here's five observations from Tuesday's match.
How Nashville fared in extra time
On any other occasion this season, Nashville would have felt accomplishment by earning a draw and one point on the road against one of the best teams in MLS. Tuesday was Nashville's first match that required extra time to decide the winner. And an MLS expansion team secured the win.
Three Nashville goals called back
The officials accurately called offside three times against Nashville. But the sting for Nashville didn't hurt less because of it.
Central striker and designated player Jhonder Cádiz saw an assistant referee call back two of his goals. The first came in the 13th minute, when Dan Lovitz's cross from the left flank connected with Cádiz, who was by himself 10 yards from goal but was a full stride behind the Toronto defense.
On the second, Lovitz played a free kick into the 18-yard box, where Dax McCarty headed the ball farther into the red and yellow cluster. Cádiz leaped over a Toronto defender to beat goalkeeper Quentin Westberg for a second time.
Rios was substituted for Cádiz in the 71st minute.
In extra time, Hany Mukhtar raced past Toronto captain Michael Bradley, took three dribbles and chipped goalkeeper Quentin Westberg for the canceled goal.
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: Scores, schedules and TV information for every match
Both sides missed scoring chances
Toronto's Nick DeLeon missed his best chance in 67 minutes played on Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis' doorstep in the 26th minute. Mukhtar and Alex Muyl sent headers over the bar within 10 yards of goal in the 72nd and 75th minute, respectively.
Toronto's Alejandro Pozuelo and Nashville's Randall Leal squandered chances shortly thereafter. DeLeon's opportunity in the first half was the only shot on goal for either side in the first half. After intermission, Toronto would have four.
Brian Anunga aids in Godoy absence
Central midfielder Brian Anunga filled in for an injured Anibal Godoy (hamstring) and the Nashville spine of the team had no hiccups. Similar to Godoy, Anunga is a destroyer who will harass opposing attacking midfielders out of possession. Anunga succeeded in that.
The 24-year-old from Cameroon played next to McCarty. That provided a youth-experience balance that boasted a lot of energy from Anunga and smart decisions with the ball from McCarty, the captain.
Godoy had injured the same left hamstring against Orlando City Nov. 8 and it took 12 days for the Panama National Team member to rehab. It is unclear if Godoy will be available against Columbus.
Nashville's match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus will be the second meeting between the two this season. Nashville lost 2-0 Sept. 19.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville SC upsets Toronto FC in MLS playoffs on Daniel Rios goal