TFC Republic Weekly: March 11-17

Toronto FC will try to keep the momentum going from its best start to a season in four years when it visits NYCFC this weekend.

TFC Republic Weekly: March 11-17

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 off to their best start since 2020

While looking unspectacular so far this season, a rebuilding Toronto FC continues to produce credible performances while racking up valuable points.  

TFC earned a 1-0 victory against Charlotte FC in Saturday’s home opener at BMO Field, a contest that was pretty drab and didn’t offer much entertainment value until Lorenzo Insigne’s highlight-reel goal in the 80th minute.    

TFC (2-0-1, seven points) are off to their best start to an MLS campaign since 2020 when they collected five points from their first three matches. Toronto has nine wins and five losses in 17 all-time MLS home openers, not including when it opened the 2021 season in Florida. TFC’s previous win in their home opener came in a 1-0 decision over New York City FC on March 7, 2020, and they hadn't won back-to-back games since Aug. 6-13, 2022. 

With two wins and a draw from their first three games – all of them clean sheets – TFC have collected a third of the 22 total points they earned in 34 league matches during the 2023 season and has already equalled its road point tally (four) from all last year. 

"We set our goals. The players set their goals. They have seen the track. They know through this phase, the points track that's going to get them to where we want to be by the end of the season, and they are on track. All I'll say is it’s a process. The effort, the intensity, the desire, but the clarity – the clarity to fight for that point," John Herdman said. 

Toronto FC vs. Charlotte FC: 3 takeaways
Lorenzo Insigne provided a moment of true inspiration for TFC in their home opener, but others also contributed to the win.

Hugo Mbongue loaned to San Antonio

Toronto FC made another roster move last week when it sent forward Hugo Mbongue on loan to San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League (USL) Championship for the remainder of the 2024 season. 

Mbongue, 19, was a member of TFC's youth academy from 2018 to 2021, playing at several different age levels before signing with TFC 2 in May 2022. He had four goals and five assists in 14 appearances (11 starts) for the Young Reds during the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro regular season in 2022. He turned out for TFC 2 in 10 games the previous year in the USL League One regular season while still a member of the youth academy. 

He signed a homegrown contract through 2025 with an option for 2026 in September 2022, becoming the 31st player in TFC history to graduate to the first team from the youth academy. But the native Toronto failed to impress in the limited playing opportunities given to him since making his MLS debut in October 2022.

He spent most of last season on loan with TFC 2 where he had five goals and an assist in 15 MLS NEXT Pro appearances. In total, he only played in 14 matches for Toronto FC across all competitions. 

Mbongue is still developing, so he's far from the finished article. He stands to benefit from this season-long loan, as it could give him a chance to earn regular minutes and allow him to step out of his comfort zone. 

Reader mailbag: Has Cassius Mailula become forgotten by TFC?
He hasn’t logged any minutes this season for Toronto FC because there are better, more experienced players ahead of him.

TFC vs. New York City FC on Saturday

Toronto returns to action when it visits New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV and TSN).  

NYCFC is off to a terrible start to the season having lost all three of its opening matches. Its latest setback came in a 2-1 home loss to the Portland Timbers this past weekend after it suffered a pair of shutout losses on the road.

Santiago Rodríguez opened the scoring early in the match for New York, but Portland equalized in the 85th minute before netting the winner deep into injury time. NYCFC edged Portland 6-3 in shots on goal.

Saturday's match is the first meeting between Toronto and NYCFC since the Reds suffered a 3-0 road loss on Sept. 24, 2023. Goalkeeper Luka Gavran made his MLS debut for TFC who were officially eliminated from playoff contention following their third straight loss.

"We knew New York had quality and they punished us for two really difficult turnovers in key moments of the first half," interim coach Terry Dunfield told reporters after the game.

He later added: "In-between there was some nice football and I think that that's probably how you could paraphrase my tenure."

NYCFC leads the all-time regular season series between the clubs with seven wins and seven draws in 20 meetings.


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).

Important dates to remember

Major League Soccer will have two transfer windows during the 2024 season:

  • Primary transfer window:  Jan. 31 to April 23
  • Secondary transfer window: July 18 to August 14

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

The roster freeze deadline for this season is Sept. 13, which means clubs must submit their final 30-man roster for the remainder of the regular season. Teams can't make any player trades or transfer signings after that deadline.

Stories to look out for at TFC Republic

Toronto FC benefits from the Hugo Mbongue loan deal in that it frees up a spot on its supplemental roster. With Mbongue gone, TFC now have 29 players on their squad, one fewer than the league limit. But even with that open roster slot, the Reds will still have to move players out if they plan to bring in reinforcements before the MLS primary window closes next month. Look for our feature story later this week that breaks down Toronto FC's roster numbers.

Other stories that will be published later this week include:         

  • My story on the current state of the union at Toronto FC.
  • My "random thoughts" column on TFC.     
  • A feature story on fullback Kobe Franklin. 
  • A TFC training notebook piece following practice either on Tuesday or Wednesday.  
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's game vs. NYCFC.   
  • Another edition of the TFC 3 Questions podcast with myself, host James Sharman, former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan.  
  • A TFC 2 season preview.
  • 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 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).