Toronto FC faced Cincinnati FC in what looked like an easy win for the Ohio team in the pregame, but head coach John Herdman’s boys managed to get away with a very valuable point in a hostile environment against 2023’s best regular season team. 

TFC started the game with a lot of pressure in a 3-4-3 variable formation that changed to 5-2-3 on defence. At first, it felt as though there was a disconnect between some players—mostly Federico Bernardeschi—and the system, but as the minutes passed, the team looked better and better. 

The first occasion came with a good shot from Lorenzo Insigne on a free kick that the referee originally called a penalty, but with the VAR’s help, the referee changed the decision. 

The first half was dominated by Toronto, creating more opportunities in the counterattack. However, they kept missing their best chances with poor offensive decisions, not knowing how to approach Cincinnati’s defence when attacking with possession of the ball. 

For Cincinnati, most of the opportunities for Pat Noonan’s team came from TFC’s mistakes in passing the ball between defenders and midfielders. 

In the second half, Toronto started to attack more and more, but they ran out of gas quickly. From the 60th minute onward, Cincinnati dominated possession. 

Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson was undoubtedly the man of the match for the Canadian team, stopping multiple shots that could have been game-winners for the Orange and Blue.

More than a point

Getting a point at home of the 2023 best team in the regular season is good, but doing it with a clean sheet is even better, especially considering the goal-conceding problem of last year. 

This clean sheet was not only because of Johnson but also because of the new additions of centre-back Kevin Long and central midfielder Deybi Flores. They were as solid as they could be in their debut and gave Toronto a feel of security in the back. 

Flores did have some trouble taking the ball from the box but was dependable.

Richie Laryea was another player of mention, having only a couple of days to understand the system and starting right away. He was one of the best on offence, creating chances, almost getting away with the penalty and being good on defence and creating counterattacks. 

This game is a hopeful sign for Toronto fans who felt disappointed after their club’s offseason moves. Herdman has started the season with good tactics, but he must improve in attack and taking care of the ball.

The tiki-taka style that Herdman intended to display wasn’t enough to hurt Cincinnati’s defence, and on different occasions was the opportunity that the Ohio team needed to get back on the game.