TFC Republic Weekly: April 22-28

It's a very busy week for Toronto FC as it'll open its Canadian Championship campaign at home and then hit the road in MLS.

TFC Republic Weekly: April 22-28

Welcome to the latest edition of TFC Republic Weekly, an email newsletter that will land in the inbox of both paid subscribers and free members of TFC Republic every Monday. 

This newsletter will look at what's in store over the next seven days for Toronto FC and offer a glimpse of what to expect at TFC Republic in the coming days. 

So, without further ado... 

Toronto FC snaps 3-game losing skid

A visit to BMO Field by the worst team in the Eastern Conference proved to be the perfect tonic for a struggling Toronto FC. 

Prince Owusu scored his team-leading fourth goal and Sean Johnson made a series of excellent saves to guide TFC to a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday night. 

Toronto (4-4-1) snapped a three-match losing skid with the victory and recorded its fifth clean sheet of the campaign – it only had six all last season. TFC had conceded 10 goals across their last three contests after registering four shutouts in their opening five matches, so Saturday’s solid defensive display was badly needed to help them get back on track.  

Coach John Herdman admitted it was "three points or bust" for the Reds coming out of this game.

"We needed three points. … This week was definitely back to basics to try to push [for] a clean sheet, and the most important thing was collectively managing the game," Herdman told reporters after the game.

He later added: "Proud of the effort tonight. Proud of the way they managed the game and [we] just made sure we were hard to beat. That was the big starting point."

Toronto FC sweep season series with win over New England
TFC got back to basics on Saturday night, recording their fifth clean sheet of the year in an important win over the Revolution.

MLS primary transfer window closes this week

The MLS transfer window closes on Tuesday, April 23 and doesn't open again until summer when it runs from July 18 to Aug. 14.

During these two periods, MLS clubs can sign a player under contract from another team via a transfer. All in-season trades between MLS teams must also take place during these two windows.

What that means is if Toronto GM Jason Hernandez is going to make a transfer move or a trade, he'll have to do it by Tuesday or wait until the summer.

Coach John Herdman previously said the club was looking to make roster additions this month. But he also explained getting something done before the April 23 deadline isn't so straightforward, hinting that other players on the current roster would have to be moved out before new recruits could be brought in. 

Sources close to the club have told TFC Republic that Hernandez is dealing with a tight budget from MLSE when it comes to signing players and that they are unwilling to give him the extra money he could use to spend on recruitments. The same sources said that this is expected to be the case for the foreseeable future and that if Toronto is going to bolster its roster, it would likely have to be done either via an intra-league trade, a free transfer or some other mechanism with little to no cost involved. 

TFC 2 report: Young Reds fall short in penalty shootout loss
Hassan Ayari and Charlie Staniland made their MLS NEXT Pro debuts, but couldn’t guide TFC 2 to the win against New England.

TFC vs. Simcoe County Rovers on Wednesday

Toronto FC kicks off its Canadian Championship campaign when it hosts League1 Ontario champions Simcoe County Rovers in the first round on Wednesday (OneSoccer/7:30 p.m. ET). 

This first ever game between the two clubs is a big mismatch. While Simcoe has some pretty notable owners (more on that later), it's a semi-professional club that doesn't come even remotely close to having the same resources as TFC. 

While Toronto is nine games into its MLS season, Simcoe still hasn't played a competitive game this year as its League1 Ontario campaign doesn't kick off until April 28 when it faces Vaughan Azzurri. 

Coach John Herdman is expected to rotate his squad and give opportunities to players to fringe of the starting 11 for Wednesday's match. 

"You can't take your eye off this type of opponent. We know the occasion is going to raise their motivation up maybe ten levels. The players at TFC, it may be one or two levels, and you have to always try to bridge that gap," Herdman said.  

He added: "[The players] will sense that this is a very important game for our club, and one that we won't be taking lightly. But there are some players that are aware that this will be their moment as well. Some players we haven't seen yet." 

The winner of Wednesday's match advances to next month's quarter-finals where it'll meet the winner of the first-round matchup between the CPL's Halifax Wanderers FC and Ligue1 Québec champions Club de Soccer Saint-Laurent. 


TFC Republic subscribers can get up to a 25% discount on ticket prices for Toronto FC home games.

To receive the special promo code, email me at To receive the special promo code, email me at

(Please don't share promo code with non-TFC Republic subscribers).

TFC vs. Orlando City on Saturday

After the Canadian Championship match, Toronto FC returns to MLS action when it visits Orlando City on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV).      

Orlando (2-3-3) sits in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, seven spots and four points below Toronto (4-4-1) and is unbeaten in its last four games (two wins) after going winless in its first four outings of the season (three losses). 

On the weekend, Orlando came from a goal down twice to earn a 2-2 draw away to CF Montreal. Ariel Lassiter scored in the 88th minute to give the hosts a 2-1 lead before Iván Angulo equalized for the visitors in injury time. 

Forward Duncan McGuire leads Orlando in scoring this season and has accounted for three of the team's 10 goals. Pedro Gallese has started in seven of Orlando's eight games, conceding 15 goals with no clean sheets. 

After dispatching the CPL's Cavalry FC in the first round of the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, Orlando bowed out in the round of 16 to Mexican club Tigres UANL.  

Toronto and Orlando previously met on Oct 21 on the last weekend of the 2023 season when the Reds suffered a 2-0 loss at BMO Field. That result meant the Reds set new franchise records for the fewest wins (four) and points (22) in a single MLS season. TFC ended the season with seven straight losses (and just one win in their last 21 games) and finished dead last in the overall league standings while missing the playoffs for a third straight year.  

"To be a part of the worst campaign in the club's history is not something I'm proud of. It's not something we're all proud of. We're all disappointed. It's been a tough season for various reasons," Jonathan Osorio told reporters after the game. 

He added: "I know it will get better. It's time now to look at ourselves in the mirror and learn from these mistakes because this type of season cannot happen again. It just cannot. Our fans do not deserve it. ... For the fans, it's unacceptable." 

The all-time series between these clubs is tied at eight wins apiece in 19 meetings. But Orlando is unbeaten in eight consecutive games vs. TFC (with six wins). 

This is the first of two regular season games between Toronto and Orlando. They'll meet again at BMO Field on July 3. 

Stories to look out for at TFC Republic

It's a classic David and Goliath story. When Toronto FC takes to the pitch at BMO Field on Wednesday for its preliminary round match of the Canadian Championship, it won't be facing another MLS outfit or a CPL team. Instead, the Reds will take on semi-professional club Simcoe County Rovers, the reigning League1 Ontario champions. Based in Barrie. Ont., Simcoe is run by Rovers Sports and Entertainment Group (RSEG), an ownership group that includes Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson, Janine Beckie, Cyle Larin, and Doneil Henry. I recently conducted a one-on-one interview with coach Zak 'Zico' Mahrady to talk about his team and its chances against TFC. Look for my feature story on Tuesday.  

Other stories that will be published later this week include:           

  • My story on the current state of the union at Toronto FC.  
  • A feature story on Reds defender Nicksoen Gomis. 
  • My "random thoughts" column on TFC.       
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's road game vs. Orlando City.     
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. Simcoe County Rovers.     
  • Another edition of the TFC 3 Questions podcast with myself, host James Sharman, former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan.    
  • A new audio interview piece with Mike Gramajo of Orlando's NBC WESH 2 News looking ahead to Saturday's game vs. Orlando City. 
  • And much more! 

TFC Republic mailbag

TFC Republic will feature a regular reader mailbag column where I answer questions from subscribers about Toronto FC and Canadian soccer in general.

I'll answer the best questions submitted to me by TFC Republic readers, so feel free to drop me an email at You can also reach out to me via Twitter.

(Top photo courtesy of Lucas Kschischang/Toronto FC)

TFC Republic has a comments section! At the very bottom of every story, there is a feature where you can post your comments, so be sure to share your thoughts and views.


TFC Republic subscribers can get up to a 25% discount on ticket prices for Toronto FC home games.

To receive the special promo code, email me at To receive the special promo code, email me at

(Please don't share promo code with non-TFC Republic subscribers).