TFC Republic Weekly: April 29-May 5

Toronto FC is trending in the right direction thanks to a three-game winning streak after losing three games in a row.

TFC Republic Weekly: April 29-May 5

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 riding 3-game winning streak

John Herdman had lofty ambitions for Toronto FC ahead of Saturday’s road game vs. Orlando City. The English coach talked about it being a big occasion for the Reds, presenting them with a chance to climb into the top four in the Eastern Conference.

Herdman received his wish courtesy of two late goals from substitute Tyrese Spicer and starter Prince Owusu in a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Orlando at Inter&Co Stadium.  

Toronto (5-4-1) looked destined to suffer its third shutout loss of the season before Spicer scored on a header to equalize in the 87th minute and Owusu’s headed attempt on goal snuck in at the near post in the final minute of regulation time.

Winners of three games in a row in all competitions, TFC have 16 points through 10 games and sit fourth in the East, just one point behind the New York Red Bulls.

"We hit our target after the first 10 games," John Herdman said after the win. "We're right in touch with that top four. So, I'm proud of them. They committed tonight. The pre-game conversations, they made some commitments as a collective and individually. Watching them live, that was a proud moment as a coach." 

Toronto FC vs. Orlando City: 3 takeaways
TFC climbed into a top four spot in the Eastern Conference after a very rare come from behind victory in Orlando.

TFC acquires Derrick Etienne Jr. from Atlanta

Right before last Tuesday's MLS deadline, Toronto FC acquired winger Derrick Etienne Jr. in a trade with Atlanta United FC in exchange for $200,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money (GAM). As part of the deal, Atlanta could also receive an additional $175,000 GAM if certain performance-based metrics are met. 

Etienne Jr. is a veteran of eight MLS seasons with the New York Red Bulls, FC Cincinnati (on loan), Columbus Crew and Atlanta. He also has a track record of success having won the Supporters’ Shield with New York in 2018, and an MLS Cup (2020) and Campeones Cup (2021) with Columbus. 

In total, he has 18 goals and 20 assists in 180 MLS regular season and playoff matches since making his league debut in 2016 with New York after coming up through the club's youth academy and reserve team.  

Although mostly known as a traditional winger, Etienne Jr. has also played as an attacking midfielder and as a striker. It was his versatility that made him such an attractive target for TFC.  

"He's an exciting talent. ... We were surprised he was available, and for us, while we might or want to recruit in different areas, given the injuries we've had and the big run of games that we've got, potentially losing key players to Copa America, I think Derrick can really add some value to our squad. So, he's a player that I think will excite the crowd. He brings a goal threat. And he wants to win. So those things are good for me," John Herdman said. 

GM Jason Hernandez added: "I think he can give us some real impact whether it's starting or being an impactful substitute that comes on to change a game for us." 

Reader mailbag: What’s going on with TFC’s sports science department?
GM Jason Hernandez said Toronto FC has reassessed how it has holistically approached its medical department.

More moves coming from TFC?

TFC GM Jason Hernandez said last week that he was looking to move a player out from the current roster prior to the MLS transfer window closing on Tuesday.

That didn't happen, but Hernandez hinted on Wednesday that players could still be sent out, presumably via loans.

"We haven't announced a player [moving] out today, but there is a world in which there may be one or two folks that you guys have been seeing around our group [who] may not be around our group by this time next week," Hernandez explained. 

Even though the transfer window is closed, MLS teams can still sell or loan players to a non-MLS club, subject to the receiving club's applicable federation's transfer window.

Toronto FC’s ‘gamble’ on Nicksoen Gomis paying off so far
The Frenchman has been a solid addition to TFC’s roster and has proven to be a strong figure in the three-man back line.

Richie Laryea a DP; Adama Diomande still on the books

GM Jason Hernandez dropped some interesting news last Monday when he revealed that captain Jonathan Osorio is no longer a DP after he agreed to restructure his contract, which ran through 2025 with an option for 2026.    

Osorio reworked his deal so that Toronto FC could use its third DP slot on Richie Laryea, who signed through 2026 (with an option for 2027) in February following a transfer from English club Nottingham Forest. Laryea spent a portion of the 2023 campaign on loan with TFC, but the club couldn’t retain his services once the loan period ended. Laryea made $1.43 million US while on loan with TFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps last season. 

“Once we secured John [Herdman] and his staff, understanding the way in which they want to play, understanding the positions on the field that we believe will have a really huge impact on winning … we reengaged Richie and Nottingham and got him at a price that was more favourable to us," Hernandez said.

“But the reality is the price still required a level of investment, and for us from a salary cap perspective and from a rules perspective to be able to fit the bulk of the transfer fee, this year required a commitment from us to put the Designated Player tag on Richie for cap purposes.”  

Hernandez also revealed that Toronto has not used its one buyout per season on Norwegian forward Adam Diomande, who was put on waivers in February. The club remains on the hook for his full contract and salary cap hit – he earned $585,000 US last season – until he signs with another team, either in MLS or from abroad, after he cleared waivers.

“At this moment in time, [until] Dio elects to continue his career and sign a contract to play somewhere [else] we will absorb the whole [salary cap] charge,” Hernandez said. 


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TFC vs. FC Dallas on Saturday

Toronto FC returns to action when it hosts FC Dallas on May 4 (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV & TSN).        

Dallas (2-5-2) sits in 12th place in the Western Conference and is coming off a big 2-0 home win over the Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby on Saturday. Petar Musa broke the deadlock in the 55th minute before Sebastien Ibeagha scored with 10 minutes left in regulation to seal the victory. Musa's goal gave Dallas its first lead in 316 minutes dating back to a 2-1 road loss to Austin FC on March 30. 

Dallas defeated the San Jose Earthquakes at home in its season opener on Feb 24, but then went winless through its next seven matches (with five losses) before beating Houston. Musa leads the team with three goals and has scored in back-to-back games, while goalkeeper Maarten Paes has started all nine matches and has three shutouts in the past four outings. 

Toronto and Dallas previously met on Feb. 26, 2022, when they played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium in the season opener for both clubs. Jonathan Osorio’s goal just before halftime cancelled out an early strike by Jáder Obrian and allowed Toronto to earn a share of the points in Bob Bradley's first game in charge as coach.  

Dallas leads the all-time MLS series against Toronto, with 11 wins and two draws in 19 games. 

This is the only regular season meeting between Toronto and Dallas this year. 

Stories to look out for at TFC Republic

A midfielder by trade, Kosi Thompson has seen minutes as a right-sided centre back in TFC's back three this season. What does John Herdman see in Thompson that makes him believe the 21-year-old native of Toronto can slot in there? And how does Thompson feel about being played out of his natural position? I recently chatted one-on-one with Thompson to get his take on things. Look for my feature story in the coming days.   

Other stories that will be published later this week include:            

  • My story on the current state of the union at Toronto FC.   
  • A new regular feature looking at the key stories to watch from TFC this week.  
  • A TFC training notebook piece following practice either on Tuesday or Wednesday.    
  • My "random thoughts" column on TFC.        
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. FC Dallas.      
  • 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 Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer looking ahead to Saturday's home game vs. FC Dallas.  
  • The weekly TFC 2 report with James Grossi.  
  • 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.