After starting their CONCACAF Champions League run with a bang, Toronto FC began their MLS campaign with a 4-2 defeat on Saturday afternoon against CF Montreal.
Playing at their temporary home of DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it didn’t take long for Montreal to open the scoring, as Mason Toye gave them the lead in the third minute. After a brilliant run from Zachary Brault-Guillard, he slid the ball to Toye, who curled a shot into the top right corner, giving Montreal an early advantage.
C'est comme ça qu'on commence une saison— CF Montréal (@clubdefootmtl) April 17, 2021
Take a bow Mason!#MTLvTOR | 1-0 | #CFMTL pic.twitter.com/YvX3toZIJS
Toye came close to scoring a second goal in the 17th minute, heading the ball just wide of Alex Bono’s net.
Montreal would find the top right corner again in the 24th minute, on an impressive goal from Romell Quioto. After a long kick down the field from Joel Waterman, Quioto chased it down, beat Luke Singh with his pace, and fired a perfect shot past Alex Bono.
24' CANON @QuiotoSamir #MTLvTOR | 2-0 | #CFMTL pic.twitter.com/EMnzVE3Ug6— CF Montréal (@clubdefootmtl) April 17, 2021
Toronto FC were having a tough time defending the two flanks, as new Montreal boss Wilfried Nancy set up his wingbacks perfectly. They caused a lot of problems for a TFC side that was often very narrow in midfield.
The Reds did find a goal before the interval, from the penalty spot. After winning the penalty, Auro took the kick, but his effort was saved by Clément Diop. After a quick VAR review determined that Diop was off his line, Toronto FC got a chance to retake it.
Mark Delgado stepped up and made no mistake, bringing TFC back within one going into half time.
Calm as you like from 12 yards out @MarkyDelgado | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/oeVxyfeT80— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) April 17, 2021
Montreal took advantage of a few more chances after the break, and added a third goal just after play resumed. After a corner was played in by Mustafa Kizza, Victor Wanyama rose above everyone to head the ball home.
Powerful like a lion @VictorWanyama double notre avance.#MTLvTOR | 3-1 | #CFMTL pic.twitter.com/TmHCPXFHmM— CF Montréal (@clubdefootmtl) April 17, 2021
They’d continue to rub salt in the wound in the 71st minute.
After Erik Hurtado drifted in from the right wing, he gave the ball to Djordje Mihailovic. Mihailovic split the defenders, catching Luke Singh flat-footed before smashing his shot past Bono.
71' Quel tir— CF Montréal (@clubdefootmtl) April 17, 2021
A blast from @DjoMihailovic!#MTLvTOR | 4-1 | #CFMTL pic.twitter.com/v4XITJ9XqC
The Montreal newcomer was one of the best players on the pitch on Saturday, routinely breaking down the TFC defenders and creating chances for his teammates.
Toronto FC added a second goal in the 88th minute, but it was too little, too late. Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty found Richie Laryea with a pass, before Laryea weaved between the defenders and fired the ball across the goal for his first of the season.
Standard stuff at this point ⚡️@RichieLaryea_ | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/N4f7RNhvEb— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) April 17, 2021
16-year-old Marshall-Rutty picked up his first MLS assist after setting up the goal.
It was a disappointing start to the MLS season for Toronto FC, who are still missing a lot of players through injury. They were far from full strength in this match, but questions will be asked about tactical choices as well.
Wilfried Nancy set his team up to target the areas where Toronto FC are weakest, and his players delivered on that game plan.
Chris Armas said it best after the game, Toronto FC were second-best.
Armas: "We just finished in second all day long ... just not good enough ... on the day, not good enough."— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) April 17, 2021
“Well, look, I would say that our team has experienced in just a few days, maybe the highest and the lowest,” said Armas. “It quiet in that locker room, much different from a few nights ago and, yeah, in some ways it will be good for our team to feel what that’s like and for all of our players to understand that it’s not just about showing up because you’re Toronto FC, and it comes easy, just because.”
Up next for Toronto FC is a “home” game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Montreal travel to Tennessee that same day to take on Nashville SC.