TFC Republic Weekly: March 25-31

With 10 points from the first five games of the season, John Herdman's restoration project at TFC is in full swing. But can it last?

TFC Republic Weekly: March 25-31

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 gets back on track with home win

After falling flat at Yankee Stadium the previous week, Toronto FC continued its restoration project under John Herdman with a 2-0 home win over Atlanta United FC on Saturday.  

The clean sheet was TFC's fourth through the first five games of this season – the Reds only had six shutouts in 34 MLS matches in 2023.  

"Goals win games, but clean sheets win championships," Herdman told reporters after Saturday's win.  

Rookie Tyrese Spicer scored his first MLS goal in his first MLS start for TFC after making his club debut in New York. Prince Owusu also scored for Toronto – it was his first goal in 11 matches since joining TFC last summer. 

"That's a pretty special moment for [Spicer]. He's got quality. We had a feeling he'd score tonight. We had that conversation with him. Defensively, I was proud of his work," Herdman offered. 

Saturday's result means TFC have collected 10 points from their first five matches of an MLS season for the second time in club history. The Reds also turned the trick in 2019 when they went on to reach their third MLS Cup in four years. 

Toronto FC vs. Atlanta United FC: 3 takeaways
TFC have collected 10 points from their first five matches for just the second time in history. But it appears to have come at a price.

Lorenzo Insigne injured in win over Atlanta

Saturday's victory did come at a cost as both Lorenzo Insigne and Shane O’Neill were injured in the first half and had to be subbed off for an already injury depleted TFC.    

John Herdman revealed after the game that O'Neill's exit was concussion related while Insigne injured his hamstring. The Italian was expected to have an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the injury. The club will likely give an update on both players either on Monday or Tuesday. 

O'Neill had to be subbed out in the 27th minute after colliding with Atlanta’s Tristan Muyumba. Then just before halftime, Insigne pulled up lame while challenging for a ball inside Atlanta’s penalty area. The Italian was helped off the field and back to the locker room by a pair of trainers with a pained expression on his face.  

TFC are already minus several players due to injuries: Wingback Richie Laryea and goalkeeper Sean Johnson (hamstring), and defenders Nicksoen Gomis (wrist) and Raoul Petretta (groin). While Johnson could return to action fairly soon, the others are out long-term. Midfielder Brandon Servania is still rehabilitating from the knee surgery he had at the end of last season. He isn't expected to be back until June. 

Random thoughts on TFC: Injury crisis provides a silver lining
With injuries to key veterans, Toronto FC’s young players could get a chance to show John Herdman they’re up to the task.

Luke Singh goes on loan to CPL's Atlético Ottawa

TFC made another roster move last week when it sent centre back Luke Singh to Atlético Ottawa of the Canadian Premier League on a season-long loan.

"He played a lot of minutes in the pre-season games. For us, we were very clear with all players; there's profiles that we're looking at that are going to take TFC to that next level in the future. And you have to be as close to the bullseye on that profile throughout the pre-season. Luke, he took some big steps, but not the steps that I think we were looking for to have an impact in this team this season," John Herdman said.

This move doesn't come as a shock, especially after Singh spent all of last season on loan with Ottawa where he made 27 appearances and scored one goal across all competitions. The previous years, he went on loan with the now-defunct FC Edmonton where he appeared in 23 regular season games (2,012 minutes).

Singh, a 23-year-old native of Brampton, Ont., became the 26th player in franchise history to graduate from the TFC academy to the first team when he signed a homegrown player contract in April 2021. He's under contract to the Reds through 2025. 

Singh's departure means TFC's roster currently stands at 27 players. The MLS roster limit is 30. 

Transaction tracker: TFC sends Luke Singh out on loan again
The young centre back will spend the 2024 season with Atlético Ottawa in the Canadian Premier League.

Loan watch: Hugo Mbongue scores in San Antonio debut

Hugo Mbongue was recently sent out to San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League (USL) Championship for the remainder of the 2024 season.

The 19-year-old forward marked his debut for San Antonio on Saturday in the club's 2-0 home win over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks by scoring one goal and tallying an assist.

Mbongue came on as a sub in the 68th minute and seven minutes later he set up Lucas Silva's opening goal. The young Canadian sealed the win for San Antonio with his first goal for the club in injury time.

“I just know that I need to get acclimated quickly, just be ready to come on. I knew that I was going to come on. Just being ready, staying ready and taking my opportunity when I get it,” Mbongue said.

TFC 3 Questions: More roster building to come from the Reds?
In this week’s podcast, host James Sharman, Jim Brennan and John Molinaro discuss what roster moves Toronto FC still has to make.

TFC vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

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

Kansas City (1-1-3) is coming off a disappointing 3-2 home loss to the LA Galaxy on the weekend. Sporting took a 2-0 lead into halftime but then conceded a trio of goals during an eight-minute span in the second half to suffer their first loss of 2024. Peter Vermes' side opened the campaign with three draws before earning a 2-1 home win over the San Jose Earthquakes on March 16. 

Saturday's match is the first meeting between Toronto and Kansas City since the teams battled to a 2-2 draw at BMO Field on June 7, 2019. The Reds received goals from Nick DeLeon and Jordan Hamilton, who scored the equalizer in the 95th minute. Both of Sporting’s goals came from the penalty spot following reviews by referee Fotis Bazakos after he consulted with the officials in the VAR booth. 

TFC coach Greg Vanney kept his composure but was fuming in the post-match press conference when asked about the officiating on the night. 

“I’m proud of the guys for fighting until the end. There’s a lot of reasons [for them] to be frustrated through the course of this game, but they kept pushing, kept looking for goals and looking for answers. Goals change games and the first call was disgraceful,” Vanney said. 

Kansas City leads the all-time MLS series against Toronto with 14 wins and eight draws in 26 contests.


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

A lot went horribly wrong for Toronto FC in 2023. But a rare bright spot for the club was the emergence of Alonso Coello, the former TFC 2 midfielder who signed with the first team early on in the season. Coello, a 24-year-old from Madrid, made 21 MLS appearances (13 starts) in his rookie MLS campaign and impressed with his cultured play and composure on the ball. He also competently deputized for Michael Bradley in the centre of the park during the veteran’s lengthy injury layoff. I recently chatted one-on-one with Coello about his expectations for 2024, life under John Herdman and much more. Look for our feature story on the Spaniard 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.
  • My "random thoughts" column on TFC.     
  • A feature story on Toronto rookie Tyrese Spicer.
  • A TFC training notebook piece following practice either on Wednesday or Thursday.  
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. Sporting Kansas City.   
  • Another edition of the TFC 3 Questions podcast with myself, host James Sharman, former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan.  
  • 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).