TFC Republic Weekly: March 18-24

The injuries are starting to pile up for Toronto FC who'll look to rebound this week after suffering its first loss of the MLS season.

TFC Republic Weekly: March 18-24

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 suffers 1st lost, concedes 1st goal of season

After a near perfect start to the MLS season, Toronto FC finally came crashing down to earth. Teenager Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty scored the first goal of his MLS career, but that wasn’t enough to inspire a lacklustre Toronto, who suffered a 2-1 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.  

TFC (2-1-1) opened their domestic campaign by recording a trio of shutouts and collecting seven points and looked fairly comfortable doing it. This game was another story entirely. A Toronto side that was dealing with a number of injuries was largely outplayed and looked bereft of ideas in the final third of the pitch, even while having the man advantage for the final 22 minutes after NYCFC's Keaton Parks was sent off.   

New York dominated Saturday's proceedings with 56.2 per cent possession and a 9-3 edge in shots on target against a Toronto team that never got out of first gear. Lorenzo Insigne had a fairly quiet night after scoring in each of the Reds last two outings.   

Wingback Richie Laryea and goalkeeper Sean Johnson (hamstring), defenders Nicksoen Gomis (wrist) and Raoul Petretta (groin), and captain Jonathan Osorio (hip) were ruled out against NYCFC. Midfielder Brandon Servania is still rehabilitating from the knee surgery he had at the end of last season.      

Toronto had some good looks on goal and Ayo Akinola had a chance to net the equalizer late in the game. But overall, the Red were wasteful with the few scoring chances they produced. 

“It's an area we've got to keep working on. There's no doubt there. … We got to keep working in that part of the field. Obviously as a coach, you'd like to see some of the chances get buried, but we'll keep working on it," John Herdman said. 

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC: 3 takeaways
TFC failed to take a bite out of the Big Apple and saw their unbeaten run and shutout streak come to an abrupt end.

Latif Blessing traded to Houston Dynamo for GAM

TFC made another move last week when they sent midfielder Latif Blessing to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for up to $275,000 General Allocation Money – $75,000 in 2025 GAM and up to $200,000 in conditional 2025 GAM if certain performance-based metrics are met. 

TFC acquired Blessing and an international roster slot last July in a trade with the New England Revolution that saw Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye go the other way.  

Blessing, 27, has 17 goals and 26 assists in 195 MLS regular season and playoff games since entering the league in 2017 with Sporting Kansas City. He has built a reputation as a versatile MLS player who can slot in at several positions. The Ghanaian is also noted for his work rate, his ability to cover a lot of ground and his physical presence in the middle of the park, and the hope was that he could be a big upgrade on Kaye for the Reds.  

But Blessing never took off in Toronto, as he made just seven appearances across all competitions since the trade – injury and fitness issues hurt his chances for opportunities last season after coming over from New England. He didn't appear in any of the club’s first three games this season as he fell down the club's depth chart. His last appearance was on Oct. 21, 2023, when he came on as a late substitute. 

This trade is important for TFC in the short-term as it clears up some valuable salary cap space – Blessing earned $665,000 US last season – and it frees up a senior international roster slot. With Blessing off the books, GM Jason Hernandez has some options when it comes to bringing in a newcomer before the MLS primary transfer window closes on April 23. The additional GAM for 2025 will also help the club's long-term fortunes as it gives them a bit more flexibility for next season. 

Blessing's departure means TFC's roster currently stands at 28 players. The MLS roster limit is 30. 

Transaction tracker: TFC trades Latif Blessing to Houston for GAM
The Ghanaian midfielder only made seven appearances for Toronto FC following last summer’s trade from New England.

TFC vs. Atlanta United on Saturday

Toronto FC returns to action when it hosts Atlanta United at BMO Field on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV).  

Atlanta (2-1-0) lost its season opener but has rebounded with back-to-back wins, including a 2-0 decision over Orlando City at home this past weekend. Saba Lobzhanidze opened the scoring early in the game and Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis tallied in the 71st minute to put the game away. Giakoumakis is Atlanta's top scorer in 2024 with three goals. Argentina's Thiago Almada also has a goal for the Five Stripes.

Six Atlanta players have been called up by their respective national teams and will miss this weekend's visit to Toronto: Giakoumakis (Greece), Almada (Argentina), Luis Abram (Peru), Ajani Fortune (Trinidad and Tobago), Bartosz Slisz (Poland) and Caleb Wiley (U.S., under-23).

Saturday's match is the first meeting between Toronto and Atlanta since the teams battled to a 2-2 draw at BMO Field on April 15, 2023. Brandon Servania scored his first goal of the season deep into injury time to rescue a point for TFC. Richie Laryea also scored for Toronto in his 100th appearance in all competitions for the Reds.

Lorenzo Insigne came off the bench in the 77th minute to make his first appearance since the Reds’ season opener on Feb. 25. The Italian had missed Toronto’s previous six outings due to a groin injury.

"He needed more time. He still can come into little pockets and get the ball and slip little passes. To get Lorenzo at his best it's also got to be mixed with dynamic moments. It's good to get him back on the field. It's a start," coach Bob Bradley offered.

The all-time regular season series between Toronto and Atlanta is tied at four wins and six draws apiece in 14 meetings

Random thoughts on TFC: International window looms large for John Herdman
Toronto FC’s coach will be without two key starters for the team’s next home game. How will he cope?

CanMNT vs. Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday

The Canadian men's team takes on Trinidad and Tobago in a crucial match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Saturday (4:00 p.m. ET/OneSoccer). 

The winner of this one-game playoff qualifies for the 2024 Copa América which takes place in the United States from June 20 to July 14. If Canada does advance to the Copa América, it will play in Group A alongside Argentina (June 20 in Atlanta), Peru (June 25 in Kansas City) and Chile (June 29 in Orlando). The Canada-Argentina contest would be the opening match of the 16-nation tournament.  

Qualifying for the Copa América is hugely important for Canada as it needs to face elite opposition on a regular basis in its buildup to co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup with the U.S. and Mexico. 

Jonathan Osorio, 31, was originally named to interim coach Mauro Biello's 23-man roster. But Toronto FC's captain picked up a hip injury last week and as a precaution he was kept out of John Herdman's lineup on Saturday 

Canada Soccer announced on Sunday that Osorio had been replaced in the Canadian squad by FC Dallas midfielder Liam Fraser. 

Familiar names in this latest Canadian team include fullbacks Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) and Alistair Johnston (Celtic), who are both coming off injuries, midfielder Stephen Eustáquio (FC Porto), and top forwards Jonathan David (LOSC Lille) and Cyle Larin (RCD Mallorca).  

Also called into the national team fold are youngsters Jonathan Sirois (22), defender Luc de Fougerolles (18) and midfielder Ismaël Koné (21). According to Soccer Canada, this is the youngest men's team selection since 2019.   

Some notable veterans have been left off this Canadian roster: goalkeeper Milan Borjan (80 caps), defenders Sam Adekugbe (42), Steven Vitória (46) and Richie Laryea (48), and midfielders Junior Hoilett (62) and Mark-Anthony Kaye (42). While the omission of Borjan and others were by design, both Laryea and Adekugbe are dealing with injuries at the moment. 

Canada is No. 50 in the current FIFA world rankings. Trinidad is 96th. 


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 via a transfer under contract to another team. All in-season trades between MLS clubs must 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

It was a moment that had been in the making for Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty ever since he debuted for TFC as a 16-year-old in 2020. The former youth academy graduate has been touted as one of the club's brightest prospects ever since, but he was still looking to open his goal-scoring account after playing in 53 MLS games. On Saturday, Marshall-Rutty finally scored his first goal for Toronto. Look for our feature story this week on Marshall-Rutty and the path he took to get to this moment.

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 TFC training notebook piece following practice either on Tuesday or Wednesday.  
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. Atlanta United.   
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of the Canadian men's team's match vs. Trinidad and Tobago.   
  • Another edition of the TFC 3 Questions podcast with myself, host James Sharman, former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan.  
  • The weekly TFC 2 report with James Grossi returns.
  • 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).