Skip to main content


Toronto FC's unbeaten run comes to an end in loss to NYCFC

Federico Bernardeschi Toronto FC Federico Bernardeschi - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK — Kevin O'Toole's first MLS goal lifted New York City FC to a 2-1 win over Toronto FC on Saturday, ending TFC's unbeaten run to start the season at three games.

New York held on for the win, reduced to 10 men in the 68th minute when midfielder Keaton Parks was shown a red card — after video review — for a nasty challenge on substitute Kobe Franklin. Toronto then upped its attack in an unsuccessful bid for a tying goal in a game that saw almost 12 minutes of second-half stoppage time.

Toronto's preparation for the game was hampered by a string of injuries with captain Jonathan Osorio (hip) and defender Raul Petretta (groin) late additions to a list that already included goalkeeper Sean Johnson (hamstring), defenders Richie Laryea (hamstring), Nicksoen Gomis (wrist) and midfielder Brandon Servania (knee).

"It was a difficult Friday with two players dropping out of the squad through injury," said Toronto coach John Herdman.

"You expect the game to be a little bit scruffy because you're just losing that little bit of cohesion," he added. "But the effort was there. That's what I wanted to see. You're not going to win every game this season. You're going to have tough moments. This is a hard place to come (to) and when this (New York) team gets into rhythm, they're a tough team to play with."

O'Toole put NYCFC (1-3-0) ahead with a stylish header in the 65th minute off a wonderful cross from the outside of Julian Fernandez's boot, with the Toronto defence slow to respond.

"A little bit soft," was Herdman's assessment of the goal, which marked the first time Toronto (2-1-1) had trailed this season.

Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, with his first MLS goal, opened the scoring in the seventh minute for Toronto, which got another fine performance from stand-in goalkeeper Luka Gavran but managed few chances on the New York goal.

Santi Rodriguez also scored for New York, which outshot Toronto 16-14 (9-3 in shots on target).

While Toronto went ahead early, NYCFC came on strong as the first half wore on, tying it at 1-1 and putting the visitors under pressure at Yankee Stadium. The New Yorkers outshot Toronto 9-6 (6-2 in shots on target) in the first half, had six corners to TFC's two and had 68.2 per cent possession.

A fine long ball from Alonso Coello found the 19-year-old Marshall-Rutty steaming toward the penalty box in the seventh minute. Two good touches later, the wingback rounded goalkeeper Matt Freese and poked the ball home. The goal came in Marshall-Rutty's first start this season and 54th career league appearance.

Marshall-Rutty said the team had been working on such plays all week, knowing the tight confines of Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez, a young designated player from Uruguay, tied it up in the 24th minute with a spectacular free kick, bending the ball over the wall and into the top corner. Centre back Kevin Long conceded the foul, chopping down Algerian forward Mounsef Bakrar.

It was the first goal conceded by Toronto this season, ending a 293-minute shutout streak.

Long and midfielder Deybi Flores both started despite being listed as questionable while forward Deandre Kerr, who missed the first three games with a calf issue, came off the bench in the dying minutes.

Italian star Lorenzo Insigne captained the team in Osorio's absence with Sigurd Rosted slotting into the backline and Prince Owusu starting up front. There was a first TFC start for former Newcastle midfielder Matty Longstaff, who gave way to Franklin at halftime.

Insigne, who managed just four goals in 20 league appearances last year, had accounted for all of Toronto's offence in its first three games, with two goals — both honoured as the MLS goal of the week.

Tyrese Spicer, the top pick in the 20204 MLS SuperDraft, came on in the 75th minute to make his Toronto debut. And he set fellow substitute Ayo Akinola with a fine curling ball minutes later, only to see the ensuing shot miss the target

New York had stumbled coming out of the gate, with losses at Charlotte FC (1-0) and St Louis City SC (2-0) and, last time out, to visiting Portland (2-1) in a game that saw it concede in the 85th and 97th minute.

Toronto opened with a scoreless draw at FC Cincinnati before winning 1-0 at New England and 1-0 over Charlotte FC in last Saturday's home opener at BMO Field. But its past record at NYCFC was 1-4-5.

Toronto hosts Atlanta United next Saturday, while NYCFC visits FC Cincinnati.

There was no immediate word from the Canada camp whether Osorio was still headed to the national team for the March 23 Copa America qualifying playoff against Trinidad and Tobago.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2024.