TORONTO - The Toronto cold stifled the squad from the Sunshine State on Saturday evening, as the Reds found their first win of the season over Inter Miami. After a scoreless first half, goals from Jonathan Osorio and Mark-Anthony Kaye gave TFC a 2-0 victory at BMO Field.
Bob Bradley’s team hadn’t won in nine league matches prior to Saturday’s result, an unwanted record which dated back to 2022. Coming out victorious against an Inter Miami side that had begun the season strongly meant a lot to Toronto’s head coach.
“Overall, the team commitment to find moments to press, and in other moments make sure that we were compact and closing things down, I thought that was quite good,” Bradley stated during a post match press conference.
“The players needed to feel a good win, they needed to feel a team effort where everybody knows that all the guys around have contributed.”
On a night in which Major League Soccer veteran Matt Hedges made his 300th start in the league, it was he and fellow centre-back Sigurd Rosted who kept the backline secure against the presence of former MLS MVP Josef Martinez.
The visitors started the match in a positive manner, with chances falling to Rodolfo Pizarro and Nicolas Stefanelli inside the opening 15 minutes. Miami fired three shots on target in the introductory stages, but failed to trouble Sean Johnson as the match went on, with the former MLS Cup MVP recording his first clean sheet as a Red.
Clean sheets have become something of a rarity at BMO Field, making the first win of the season even sweeter for TFC supporters. The Reds allowed a goal in 21-straight league matches to start the 2022 MLS season, so witnessing a clean sheet within the first four matches of the current campaign will sit nicely with fans. The new-look backline appears to be growing in confidence match-after-match.
Though he didn’t find the back of the net himself, Bernardeschi was at his best against the Herons after an unusually subdued performance in Toronto’s last match, a 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew. The Italian winger crafted a killer switch to left-back Raoul Petretta early on in the match, but his compatriot was unable to make the most of the opportunity.
Later on in the first half, ‘Fede’ sliced a similar ball to Osorio who chested it down, but swung it wide of the post. As halftime approached, Bernardeschi was involved yet again, this time receiving a splendid through ball from Osorio down the right wing. Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender rushed out to deny the TFC star as Deandre Kerr made a threatening dash towards goal.
It only took TFC two minutes to find the lead after a halftime rest, as Osorio made more history with his hometown club. The Brampton native got on the end of a cross from Canada teammate Richie Laryea to score for the first time this season. The 48th-minute tally means that the midfielder has now scored in every season as a Red.
Fede ➡️ Richie ➡️ Oso#TFCLive | ️: @MLS pic.twitter.com/dYtkvQOLbn— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) March 19, 2023
Kaye would double Toronto’s lead in the 69th minute off of a lofted free kick delivery from Bernardeschi. Kaye somehow head the ball into the net, even as he faced away from Miami’s goal. The tally was the Canadian international’s first goal at BMO Field and second goal with the club, after netting in the season-opening loss.
Two goals in four games for Mark-Anthony Kaye!#TFCLive | ️: @MLSpic.twitter.com/XkV9D1bAl5— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) March 19, 2023
Next to Kaye in the midfield was Brandon Servania, who himself had quite the game, but didn’t have a goal to show for it. The 24-year-old completed 91% of his passes, created two big chances and made three tackles in what was his best performance for TFC since being acquired in a trade in late February.
“He’s a very good guy, he wants to learn, he trains well everyday,” Bradley said about Servania following the match.
“I think he played well.”
After conceding a late equalizer to the Crew in the home opener last weekend, Toronto closed out the match comfortably this time around, with Inter Miami struggling to find quality looks in the attacking third. The team in pink were left with scraps, shooting from distance and trying to make the most out of set piece opportunities.
TFC will travel to play the San Jose Earthquakes in their next match on March 25. Bradley will be without Canadian men’s national team players Osorio, Kaye, Laryea and Ayo Akinola, as well as El Salvadorian backup keeper Tomas Romero, as they represent their respective countries during the international window.