Toronto FC hits rock bottom with loss to FC Cincinnati – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Steve Buffery

FC Cincinnati forward Isaac Atanga (23) slide tackles Toronto FC forward Ifunanyachi Achara (99) in the first half at TQL Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021.
FC Cincinnati forward Isaac Atanga (23) slide tackles Toronto FC forward Ifunanyachi Achara (99) in the first half at TQL Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Katie Stratman /USA TODAY Sports

Fall is in the air, and observing squirrels gather nuts for the winter has become more exciting than watching Toronto FC try to climb out of the Major League Soccer basement.


Which they cannot do. The Reds officially hit rock bottom on Saturday at TQL Stadium, losing to host FC Cincinnati 2-0 in a Major League Soccer battle featuring the league’s two bottom-feeders.

The loss for Toronto FC was particularly embarrassing given the opponent. FC Cincinnati had lost three straight and were winless in 12 games at home heading into the match and had yet to win at its new, home field, TQL Stadium. That drought is now over.

As for TFC, the lowly Reds — one of the highest-spending clubs in MLS — have now lost five straight, are winless in eight and have recorded only one clean sheet in 23 games this season. Toronto also has given up a league-worst 49 goals with a minus-23 goal differential.

With the win, FC Cincinnati moved five points head of TFC in the “race” for last place overall in MLS — though the Reds did end the match with a flurry of scoring chances. FC Cincinnati held an 52%-48% edge in possession. Both sides fired five shots in goal, though TFC did record 13 total shots to nine by Cincy.


With a starting XI that hardly inspired a ton of excitement, the Reds marched into TQL Stadium with one arm tied behind their back, so to speak. When the TFC roster was unveiled about an hour before Saturday’s match, defending MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo was surprisingly not in the lineup. In fact, none of the Toronto’s Designated Players started, which has certainly been a theme for the club this year. Later it was revealed that Pozuelo, who has been battling injuries all season, felt some quad discomfort after training on Thursday and the club decided as a precaution not to have him travel to Cincinnati. He is listed as day to day — a typical predicament for TFC coach Javier Perez, who already was without forwards Jozy Altidore (season-ending surgery) and Ayo Akinola (season-ending injury), as well as midfielders Ralph Priso (season-ending surgery) and Noble Okello, who is suspended after being red-carded last time out.


Perez said after the match that he doesn’t believe Pozuelo will be ready for Tuesday’s match at BMO Field against Inter Miami.

“It’s definitely the most challenging season of my professional career and I think most of the players and the staff would say the same thing,” said Perez, who has been a head coach in the Real Madrid youth system and with the U.S. under-18 national team and was an assistant with New York City FC. “And like I said before, when you think things cannot go worse, they can go worse. But the only thing you can do is just to stay positive and stay calm. I can see in the faces (of the players), they want to turn this around. We’re in a really, really bad dynamic but I’m positive we can turn this around and it’s only ourselves that can dig us out of the hole.”


Back from international duty were Jonathan Osorio and Richie Laryea (Canada), Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) and Soteldo (Venezuela), though none of them started. Eriq Zavaleta, who played for El Salvador against Canada last Wednesday, did not dress. The result: A starting lineup with little creativity and firepower.

TFC has 11 more regular-season games and are 16 points out of a playoff spot with seven teams to leap over. With the playoffs a near-impossibility, and soon to be mathematically unattainable, Perez likely will decide in the near future to begin starting the club’s younger players, to see what the team has going forward.

The Reds’ 15 points after 23 games are the fewest they ever have had at this stage of a season.


The Orange and Blue were without the services of regular starting goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer (COVID-19 health and safety protocols), centre back Maikel van der Werff (sports hernia), midfielder Caleb Stanko (health & safety protocols) and winger Joe Gyau (Achilles).

Brenner Souza da Silva opened the scoring for Cincinnati in the 39th minute while Haris Medunjanin added a second for the host team in the 58th. Cincinnati had the best chance early when Medunjanin, in the 30th minute, left footed a shot from just outside the box towards the low, left corner, prompting TFC keeper Quentin Westberg to make a good save.

Three minutes later, on a TFC counter-attack, forward Ifunanyachi Achara, playing at the left wing position, found right winger Tsubasa Endoh with a good cross and Endoh forced Cincy keeper Przemyslaw Tyton to make a smart save on a low blast.


Cincinnati jumped on the board when da Silva deflected a cross with his right foot from very close range. Mavinga did a poor job marking da Silva on the play.

Medunjanin doubled Cincinnati’s lead when he left-footed a shot towards the goal and the shot deflected off TFC defender Omar Gonzalez and into the goal. Westberg didn’t have a chance.

Shortly after, Perez substituted Soteldo, Osorio and Lawrence into the match, but it was too little, too late, though the trio did add some life to TFC’s attack.

“I would say we’re frustrated, but the group is together,” said TFC forward Dom Dwyer. “And I think that’s very important. When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to step away from each other. So we’ll dig deep, stick together and get back to work on Tuesday. We know we have a tough hill to climb to make it into the playoffs but we’ll take it one game at a time.


“I would say it’s better to be lucky than good and I think luck is not on our side right now and sometimes when it rains, it pours and that seems to be the case for us right now,” Dwyer added.

“We need, of course, to put the responsibility on ourselves and veteran players like myself, we take responsibility to keep the group together and get back to work on Tuesday. I’ve been in this difficult position before. I’ve been with teams that have breezed into the playoffs and I’ve been with teams that have not made it into the playoffs and I would say this is a very, very talented group. We look around the locker room at each other and we see how much quality we have. We’re frustrated as well and it’s up to us to get things together and get us back on the right path and we’ll do everything we can to do that.”

The Toronto Sun Headline News logo

The Toronto Sun Headline News

Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Toronto SUN, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300