TFC Republic Weekly: May 20-26

It's a busy week for Toronto FC with the second leg of their Canadian Championship quarter-final and an MLS game vs. FC Cincinnati.

TFC Republic Weekly: May 20-26

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 back on track with big derby win over Montreal

A visit to BMO Field from bitter rivals CF Montreal was all that Toronto FC needed to wake up from its slumber.  

TFC scored three times in the opening 19 minutes and never looked back as they waltzed to a 5-1 victory over an injury-depleted Montreal in Saturday’s Canadian Classique.  

Federico Bernardeschi bagged a hat trick, and Matty Longstaff and Prince Owusu also scored for the Reds, while Lorenzo Insigne collected a pair of assists in his first start in close to two months. Bernardeschi became the first TFC player to score three goals in a game since Ayo Akinola in 2020.  

With the win, Toronto (7-6-1) moved from sixth to fifth in the Eastern Conference table, snapped a two-game losing streak, and equaled its points total from last year (22, a franchise-worst). 

This was a statement win for TFC after a very difficult week. The post-match melee at BMO Field following a loss to New York City FC cast an ugly shadow over the club and led to several suspensions. Back-to-back losses also saw them drop out of the top four in the East. 

“For us, it was very important tonight, for the city, for the fans, for the team … [because it was] a special important game like that, like a derby. We know how important this game [is] for the fans. We just gave everything on the field,” Bernardeschi said. 

Coach John Herdman added: "The lads brought it together. You saw the passion, the intensity, the willingness to fight for each other. That team spirit is there." 

Toronto FC hammers CF Montreal in Canadian Classique
Powered by Federico Bernardeschi’s hat trick, TFC completely outclassed an injury-depleted Montreal at BMO Field on Saturday.

Jordan Perruzza's future still unclear

Jordan Perruzza still isn’t training with Toronto FC, but coach John Herdman said last week a loan move for the young forward remains a possibility. 

“I think [we were] still looking at loan opportunities the last that I’d heard from the front office, so I'm sure they'll make an announcement statement, or they'll update me as soon as things are clarified. There should be something coming soon,” Herdman revealed.  

Perruzza, 23, hasn’t made a single appearance this season for TFC. He’s also in the final year of his contract with a club option for 2025.  

Earlier this month, Herdman said in reference to both Ayo Akinola (who has since mutually agreed to terminate his contract with Toronto) and Perruzza that “we're pretty clear that their future needs to be away from Toronto FC to develop their careers.”  

Herdman hasn’t strayed from that position. 

“As simple as it is, for young players where they’re going to be pushing to break [into] the lineup, you want them playing. You want them playing and knocking on the door through what we've seen in the past where players have gone into loan situations and been successful,” Herdman said last week. 

Toronto FC vs. CF Montreal: 3 takeaways
TFC scored three times in the first 19 minutes and never looked back after putting the hammer down against their bitter rivals.

TFC vs. CS Saint-Laurent on Tuesday

Toronto FC hosts League1 Quebec side CS Saint-Laurent in the second leg of the Canadian Championship quarter-finals on May 21 (7:00 p.m. ET/OneSoccer).           

TFC are in firm command of the two-legged, aggregate series following a 3-0 win over the semi-professional club in the opener on May 8. That means the Reds only need a draw on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals. Even a 1-0 or 2-0 loss would be good enough to see them move on to the final four. 

"It was a tough game [the first leg]; really tough match. So, they're going to come in hungry; they've got a real point to prove to us. ... We have to take the game seriously; we have to get a result there and just keep on this good run," John Herdman said. 

Saint-Laurent, the reigning League1 Quebec champions, currently sit sixth in the table with a 1-2-2 record and are coming off back-to-back losses, including a 1-0 setback against league leaders AS Laval last Friday. 

Saint-Laurent was founded in 1982 and is based in the northern borough of the city of Montreal. They qualified for the Canadian Championship by winning the 2023 Ligue1 Quebec title. They also won last year's Coupe L1QC, completing the league and cup double.    

Saint-Laurent stunned the CPL's Halifax Wanderers in the first round of this year's Canadian Championship by earning a 5-3 penalty shootout win at Wanderers Grounds after the teams battled to a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes of regulation time.


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TFC vs. FC Cincinnati on Saturday

After the midweek Canadian Championship match, Toronto returns to MLS action when it hosts FC Cincinnati on May 25 (7:30 p.m. ET/Apple TV).           

Cincinnati (9-2-3) currently sits second in the Eastern Conference, three spots and eight points above Toronto in the table. Pan Noonan's side is the hottest team in MLS as it's riding a six-game winning streak which includes a 3-1 home victory over St. Louis City SC on the weekend. 

Argentinian midfielder Luciano Acosta, last year's league MVP, scored a goal and added two assists in the game against St. Louis to become the 15th player in MLS history with at least 150 career goal contributions. Acosta leads the team in goals (seven) and assists (nine, tied for second in MLS) this season.  

Toronto and Cincinnati last met on Feb. 24 in the season opener for both clubs when they battled to a 0-0 draw at TQL Stadium

"It was quite a professional performance from the whole group collectively," captain Jonathan Osorio said. "And I think a very good point won on the road." 

John Herdman said the valuable road point was "exactly what we needed" for the first game of the MLS campaign. 

"We showed that fighting spirit. We stayed connected right until the end. So, for me it was a good start to the season, but still work to be done. A lot," Herdman said. 

Cincinnati leads the all-time regular season series against Toronto with six wins (one draw) in 11 meetings. The Orange and Blue have won six of the last eight games against the Reds 

Saturday is the second and final meeting of the regular season between the clubs. 

Stories to look out for at TFC Republic

Unquestionably, TFC's man of the match in the win over Montreal was Federico Bernardeschi, who after suffering through a 19-game goal drought dating back to last summer has suddenly discovered a rich vein of form. Bernardeschi's hat trick means he has been involved in 10 of Toronto’s last 15 goals in all competitions, with seven goals and three assists. The Italian now has six goals in this MLS campaign, one more than he had all last season for the Reds. I'll have a feature story on the Italian DP in the coming days. 

Other stories that will be published later this week include:             

  • 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 home game vs. CS Saint-Laurent       
  • In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's home game vs. FC Cincinnati.       
  • 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 Laurel Pfahler of Queen City Press looking ahead to Saturday's home game vs. Cincinnati.   
  • 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)

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