Toronto FC look to end the season on a high, starting with Miami midweek game


TORONTO – Officially eliminated from the MLS playoffs, Toronto FC are working to regain their health and retool their game ahead of a Canadian Championship semi-final on November 3 with Pacific FC.

TORONTO – Officially eliminated from the MLS playoffs, Toronto FC are working to regain their health and retool their game ahead of a Canadian Championship semi-final on November 3 with Pacific FC.

“It’s been a very difficult year for everyone, for all of us,” said Toronto coach Javier Perez, who took charge of the team on July 4 when first-year coach Chris Armas took over. fired after a 1-8-2 departure. “But at the same time, we want to keep improving.”

Toronto (6-16-7) has five more regular season games to play. Next up is a midweek visit to Inter Miami CF (9-15-5), who have lost six straight games since winning 1-0 in Toronto on September 14 – a result that capped a streak of 11 games that saw Miami go 7-1-3.

Miami was dominated 16-1 in the current slide. The Florida club have been shut out in their last four outings, all on the road, and haven’t scored a goal in 386 minutes since a 5-1 loss on September 22 to Nashville SC. Miami has only managed one shot on target in each of its last two games and has been outscored 64-34 (20-7 for shots on target) in the last four outings.

Coach Phil Neville says his team creates chances, but doesn’t end them. More worrying were defensive failures in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Columbus.

“We still made four individual errors for goals conceded,” said the former Manchester United and Everton player. “It is a crime to me greater than a missed opportunity… It kills your game before. It kills the belief of forwards and flair players on the team when you concede goals.”

He could have spoken of Toronto, which has been hit this season by giveaways at inappropriate times and places. The TFC has allowed 56 goals, the worst in the league, eight short of the franchise record of 64 (set in 2018).

With five games to go, 11th-ranked Miami is nine points below the Eastern Conference playoff line – and seven points above 13th-ranked Toronto.

With Miami in full swing after September’s victory over Toronto, TFC went undefeated in their next five games (4-0-1) in all competitions – a streak that was interrupted in the 2-0 loss of Saturday against Atlanta United, who officially knocked Toronto out of postseason play.

“We have to stay strong,” Perez said. “That’s what good teams do. They know how to bounce back right away.”

The weekend’s loss was a bad-tempered affair that saw Toronto’s Brazilian back Auro and Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco both sent off in the dying minutes for violent driving. Both teams appealed red cards.

Miami has been lacking in body and goals in recent days.

He only dressed six substitutes in the loss to Columbus. Ventura Alvarado, Ian Fray, Joevin Jones, Ryan Shawcross, Nico Figal, Kieran Gibbs and Victor Ulloa were all unavailable.

“It’s a tough time, especially with the roster we have available right now,” Neville said. “So what you saw on Saturday is probably what you’re going to see Wednesday night in terms of permutations and available players.”

This is Miami’s first home game – DRV Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale – since losing to Nashville on September 22.

“It’s been a month on the road and it’s taking its toll,” said Neville, who said his team would speak on the pitch in the final race.

“What we have to do is mathematically still possible,” he added. “My mindset is that we can always do it… We want to make sure we end the season well.”

Neville, like most of the opposition coaches, has praised Toronto despite its position in the standings.

“I’m looking at the Toronto roster and I see a roster with a lot of talented players,” he said. “I watch the Canadian national team and I see a team that is getting better and better. And I also see a lot of these players playing for the Toronto team. So I think their position (in the ranking) in terms of the quality they have is totally wrong.

“If you think of Toronto next year, they’ll be fighting for a playoff berth or they’ll be at the top of the table if they make one or two changes. I’m sure that. Because their roster is too much of it. is good to be at the bottom of the league. “

Yet Miami has already beaten Toronto twice this season – 3-1 on August 21 at Fort Lauderdale and 1-0 on September 14 at BMO Field.

TFC’s loss to Miami in September was action packed.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men for almost an hour after defenseman Kemar Lawrence was sent off. encroachment by Miami players.

This result sentenced Toronto to a sixth straight loss while extending their winless streak to nine (0-7-2). Miami, meanwhile, extended their unbeaten streak to six games with four clean sheets.

The two teams have since gone in different directions.

Toronto was able to field the three designated players against Atlanta, forward Jozy Altidore and Spain playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo returning from a long absence due to injury. Their return should provide relief to Venezuelan winger Yeferson Soteldo.

Toronto will be without injured forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who limped in the Atlanta game. Auro will miss the game by suspension unless he wins the red card appeal.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 19, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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