Toronto FC and FC Cincinnati Play to Scoreless Draw in Season Opener

Toronto FC kicked off their 2024 MLS season with a draw against FC Cincinnati and kept 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta off the scoresheet. 

The club are looking to get back on the right track after a disappointing 2023 season that saw them underachieve and fail to live up to their high expectations. With former Canadian Men’s national team head coach John Herdman at the helm, TFC will hope to regain past glory and uplift the morale of their devoted fanbase.

Herdman went with a 3-4-2-1 formation for the season opener. Sean Johnson started in goal; Shane O’Neil, Kevin Long, and Raoul Petretta on the backline; Richie Laryea, Alonso Coello, Deiby Flores, and Federico Bernardeschi in the midfield; Lorenzo Insigne and captain Jonathan Osorio on the wings; and Prince Owusu as the lone striker. 

Osorio came up big for Toronto in the 35th minute as he broke up Cincinnati’s clear goal scoring opportunity to ensure that the match remained scoreless. Aside from the final 10-minutes, TFC played fairly well in the opening half. 

Toronto moved the ball well and had both Insigne and Bernardeschi engaged throughout. They had their best scoring opportunity at the end of the first half after Insigne received the ball, but his shot struck teammate Owusu, who was down on the field in an offside position. 

Insigne’s afternoon came to an end early as he was subbed off in the 61st minute for Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty. He has a well-documented injury history, so monitoring his minutes could also ensure that he remains healthy for the duration of the season, which unfortunately hasn’t been the case since his arrival. During his post-match press conference, Herdman mentioned that he will be cautious and that the Italian’s minutes would be monitored throughout the season. He said:

“This is about managing Lorenzo [Insigne] through the whole season so we get him for as many home games as we can…I think Lorenzo, it was a good start. He had his moments, which he should. He is still in his preseason. We’re just going to keep getting him stronger and getting him ready to really fire up for that home opener.”

Toronto FC head coach John Herdman on Lorenzo Insigne

Laryea, who had done well in drawing fouls and using his pace to create offense off the wing, was forced to sub off in the 70th minute in what appeared to be an injury. It was unclear on the severity of the injury, but it would be a massive loss for TFC should they lose the fullback for an extended period after reacquiring him on a permanent transfer from Nottingham Forest. 

Despite a few potential costly giveaways in the second half, Toronto remained composed. It was a valiant effort from TFC, who displayed plenty of improvements compared to what fans saw last season.

Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson had an excellent performance as he made 7 saves and recorded a clean sheet. Herdman shared his thoughts on the former MLS Cup winner and his importance to the leadership group, saying:

“I thought he [Sean Johnson] made two big chest saves from tough angles, but two big saves that a lot of us, from the front players to the people on the bench, would just expect him to do it. So, again, when you come to a stadium like this with players like this, you know he is going to be busy at some point. He’s all in. He’s all in at the moment.”

Toronto FC head coach John Herdman on Sean Johnson’s performance

Although TFC were unable to find the back of the net, there were a lot of positives that they can build on as the season progresses. 

Toronto FC are back in action next Sunday, when they take on New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. 

Check out highlights from Toronto FC vs FC Cincinnati below:

Image credit: Toronto FC (@TorontoFC – X]

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