TFC Republic Weekly: May 13-19

Toronto FC could be hit with fines and suspensions this week after Saturday's post-game melee with NYCFC at BMO Field.

TFC Republic Weekly: May 13-19

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... 

TFC's 5-game winning streak snapped in loss to NYCFC

A win by Toronto FC on Saturday night would have brought them up to 22 points on the 2024 MLS campaign, the same number of points they recorded all last season.   

But TFC couldn’t get the job done and squandered a chance to climb into second place in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 3-2 loss to New York City FC at BMO Field.  

Federico Bernardeschi and substitute Raoul Petretta scored for Toronto (6-5-1), who saw its five-match winning streak in all competitions come to an end as it suffered its first defeat in a month.   

Lorenzo Insigne came off the bench in the 76th minute with Toronto trailing by a goal. But not even the return of the Italian DP, who missed TFC’s last eight matches with a hamstring injury, could inspire the home side to a come-from-behind win. Insigne’s previous appearance was on March 23.  

In a lot of ways Saturday's loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Toronto who carried the bulk of play against New York. But at the same time, the hosts were also wasteful in front of goal, while the visitors made the most of their scoring chances. 

TFC Talk: Ugly scenes at BMO Field after Reds’ loss to NYCFC
The post-match melee at BMO Field on Saturday night wasn’t a very good look from John Herdman and Toronto FC.

Suspensions, fines likely coming for TFC, New York

Federico Bernardeschi picked up his second yellow card of Saturday's contest after the final whistle for confronting the referee, which means he'll be suspended for the Reds' next match. A heated melee broke out on the pitch moments later when players from both teams began to push and shove each other before eventually being separated by coaches and security staff.

In the post-match press conference, coach John Herdman admitted the hostilities stemmed, in part, from some bad blood between the clubs in their last meeting on March 16, a 2-1 home win for NYCFC. 

“There were things that happened in the previous game in the tunnel [at Yankee Stadium] that just spilled over into this game,” Herdman explained.

Captain Jonathan Osorio added: “I think one of their players crossed the line [tonight] and headbutt[ed] Sean Johnson… I saw him. He headbutt[ed] Sean.”

Herdman also revealed on Saturday that one of his players told him at halftime of the match in March that NYCFC coach Nick Cushing punched him in the face in the tunnel at Yankee Stadium. Herdman didn’t identify which player it was, saying only it was “a 19-year-old," which suggests it could've been Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty.

"[We heard] that the coach and three of their players corner a 19-year-old [player] of ours, by himself. That's when there's a problem," Osorio said. "And I think that kind of carried over this game, probably from their side as well. … We were just letting them know that we didn't forget about that."

Herdman said no action was taken by the league over the alleged incident, claiming that cameras in certain areas of Yankee Stadium weren’t working.

Cushing categorically denied he hit any TFC player.

“I can honestly say as a head coach, I’ve done 348 games, I’ve never ever laid a finger on a player,” Cushing told TFC Republic and Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press.

It's expected that MLS will hand out some fines and suspensions to both teams as a result of Saturday's skirmish.

TFC Tidbits: John Herdman thinks Ayo Akinola ‘has a big future’
“I think he’s still got a lot to play for and there’s a lot to come in his career,” Herdman said after Akinola’s exit from Toronto FC.

TFC vs. Nashville SC on Wednesday

Toronto FC returns to MLS action when it visits Nashville SC on May 15 (8:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV).          

Nashville has four losses (and one win) in its last seven games, including a 1-0 road setback against Charlotte FC on the weekend. Nashville (2-4-5) sits 13th in the Eastern Conference, nine spots and eight points behind Toronto (6-5-1). 

Forward Sam Surridge leads Nashville in scoring, accounting for five of the team's 14 goals. Midfielder Hany Mukhtar is the side's top playmaker with four assists. Former Reds Jacob Shaffelburg and Lukas MacNaughton feature for Nashville, although MacNaughton is currently sidelined due to injury. Shaffelburg has three assists in 10 MLS appearances this season. 

Toronto and Nashville previously met on June 10, 2023, at BMO Field when they played to a 1-1 draw. Lorenzo Insigne scored a highlight-reel goal for Toronto just before halftime, only to see it cancelled out in the second half after a howler by goalkeeper Sean Johnson who mishandled a shot from distance by Nashville substitute Randall Leal. 

The all-time series between Toronto and Nashville (including playoffs) is tied at two wins apiece in seven matches. TFC is unbeaten in its last five contests vs. Nashville (with two wins). 

These teams will also meet on June 19 at BMO Field. 


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TFC vs. CF Montreal on Saturday

After the midweek trip to Nashville, TFC will return home to host CF Montreal on May 18 (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV).          

Montreal (3-5-3) is riding a four-match winless streak and has lost its last two, including a 3-2 home defeat to Inter Miami on the weekend. Montreal took a 2-0 lead after 32 minutes but then conceded a pair of goals later in the half before Benjamin Cremaschi scored the winner in the 59th minute. 

Uruguayan forward Matías Cóccaro leads the team in scoring this season with three goals, but he's currently sidelined due to a knee injury and isn't expected back until June. Fellow forward Josef Martinez (knee) and Mahala Opoku (ankle) are also dealing with injuries. Goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois has started all 11 games with two clean sheets. 

Toronto and Montreal last met on Aug. 20, 2023, when Montreal earned a 3-2 win at BMO Field. Federico Bernardeschi scored a brace for the Reds, who lost their ninth game in a row and extended its winless run to 12 games in all competitions. 

The all-time regular season series between the clubs is dead even with 14 wins apiece and five draws 

These teams will meet again on July 20 at Stade Saputo. 

Stories to look out for at TFC Republic

Recently acquired in a trade with Atlanta United, winger Derrick Etienne Jr. is a veteran of eight MLS seasons who has won the Supporters’ Shield with the New York Red Bulls in 2018 and an MLS Cup (2020) and Campeones Cup (2021) with the Columbus Crew. But his recent spell with Atlanta wasn't a success, as he made just 25 appearances since joining the club in 2023. His trade to TFC gives the Haitian international a chance to get his club career back on track. Look for my feature story in the coming days. (NOTE: This story was supposed to run last week but didn't due to scheduling issues).

Other stories that will be published later this week include:            

  • More on the John Herdman-Nick Cushing situation.
  • My piece looking at the key stories to watch from TFC this week.  
  • My "random thoughts" column on TFC.      
  • Regular TFC Tidbits throughout the week  
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's road game vs. Nashville      
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. CF Montreal.      
  • 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 Ben Wright of Broadway Sports Media looking ahead to Wednesday's road game vs. Nashville.  
  • A new audio interview piece with Elias Grigoriadis of the Canadian Press looking ahead to Saturday's home game vs. Montreal.  
  • 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)

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