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Toronto FC earn a tough point on the road after securing a closely contested 0-0 draw to FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

First Half:

For the sixth consecutive season, Toronto FC’s season opener took place away from home. Cincinnati kicked off the first half and to say that the game was action-packed from the onset would be an understatement. Both teams brought a high-tempo energy to their 2024 MLS season opener, and it showed.

TFC captain Jonathan Osorio received an early yellow card in the second minute of the game for a late challenge on 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta in the middle of the pitch. TFC were not fearful as the Reds showed no signs of hesitancy towards attacking the reigning Supporters’ Shield champions in the early stages of the game. TFC was awarded a penalty in the fifth minute, but a VAR ruling determined that Richie Laryea was fouled outside of the box, thus overturning the initial refereeing ruling from a penalty kick to a free kick. The ensuing free kick by Lorenzo Insigne forced a terrific goal-line save from the Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano. Not to be outdone, TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson produced a sensational reactionary save in the 14th minute tipping over a close-ranged bicycle kick attempt from FC Cincinnati forward Corey Baird.

Raoul Petretta became the second TFC player to receive a yellow card for a challenge outside the box in the 34th  minute. The ensuing free kick was crossed in for a volleyed attempt that forced Sean Johnson to produce a sturdy save from midfielder Luca Orellano’s cleanly struck attempt. The TFC goalkeeper was once again called into action in the 40th minute of the match when he saved Yuya Kubo’s left-footed shot from distance. The Reds would find a great late goalscoring chance before the half closed out. Three minutes into stoppage time of the first half, Bernardeschi’s cutting pass found Insigne whose shot attempt from the middle of the box was blocked and deflected by the Cincinnati defence onto TFC forward Prince Owusu, who unfortunately found himself in an offside position.

Second Half:

TFC kicked off the second half searching for the breakthrough goal and almost acquired it courtesy of Federico Bernardeschi. The Italian attacker created the first goalscoring chance of the second half when he cut in from the right side and unleashed a left-footed shot on target which was denied by FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano in the 48th minute. Less than two minutes later, Bernardeschi once again cut in from the right side to unleash a driven attempt that was blocked by FC Cincinnati’s Pavel Bucha.

As the second half continued to progress, FC Cincinnati created a flurry of chances. TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson produced a save in the 51st minute when he stood tall and denied a close-range shot attempt from the left side of the box by FC Cincinnati forward Sergio Santos. TFC kept the score line level during this pressure, but centre-back Shane O’Neill did receive a yellow card for a late challenge in the 54th minute. The Reds backline was tested numerous times, but TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson kept the game scoreless amidst waves of Cincinnati offensive chances by producing key saves in the 59th and 60thminutes respectively.

With the game still level, TFC manager John Herdman introduced key offensive substitutions by bringing on Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Ayo Akinola for Lorenzo Insigne and Prince Owusu in the 62nd minute. It became quite obvious that the intensity levels of the match were quite draining for both teams. FC Cincinnati made a handful of substitutions throughout the second half, and the Reds would go on to utilize all five possible substitutions. Sigurd Rosted, Kosi Thompson and Kobe Franklin were brought on for Shane O’Neill, Alonso Coello, and Richie Laryea.

Both teams committed bodies forward in search of the breakthrough goal in the final thirty minutes of the match, but no significant notable scoring chances were created. The majority of the final stretch was heavily contested in the middle of the pitch. Two further yellow card bookings, however, were brandished to FC Cincinnati right wing-back Yuya Kubo and TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson to conclude the match.

Although the game finished scoreless, the result ensured that Toronto FC leave TQL stadium with a point for the first time. On an individual note, Toronto FC's Sean Johnson became the fourth player in MLS history to record 100 career clean sheets following this afternoon’s goalless draw.

The Reds return to action on Saturday, March 3rd versus New England Revolution with kick-off set for 2 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.

Photo 2024-02-25, 14 51 53


FC CINCINNATI – Roman Celentano; Kipp Keller, Miles Robinson, Ian Murphy; Yuya Kubo (Bret Halsey 90+3’), Pavel Bucha (Malik Pinto 90+4’), Obinna Nwobodo, Luca Orellano (Alvas Powell 78’); Luciano Acosta (C), Sérgio Santos (Aaron Boupendza 58’), Corey Baird (Gerardo Valenzuela 80’)

Substitutes Not Used: Evan Louro, Isaiah Foster, London Aghedo, Arquimides Ordóñez

TORONTO FC – Sean Johnson; Shane O’Neill (Sigurd Rosted 80’), Kevin Long, Raoul Petretta; Federico Bernardeschi, Deybi Flores, Alonso Coello (Kosi Thompson 71’), Richie Laryea (Kobe Franklin 70’); Jonathan Osorio (C), Lorenzo Insigne (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 62’), Prince Owusu (Ayo Akinola 62’)

Substitutes Not Used: Luka Gavran, Aimé Mabika, Latif Blessing, Cassius Mailula


  • Toronto FC recorded its first-ever MLS point at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Defender Kevin Long and midfielder Deybi Flores made their debuts and first starts for Toronto FC.
  • Following the goalless draw, Toronto FC's Sean Johnson became the fourth player in MLS history to record 100 career clean sheets, joining Nick Rimando, Kevin Hartman and former Red Stefan Frei.
  • Sean Johnson’s six saves recorded against FC Cincinnati marks the most saves the American shot-stopper has made in a single match for TFC, beating his previous club-high of five saves against Atlanta United on March 4, 2023.
  • Richie Laryea made his 113th appearance for Toronto FC, 249 days after appearing in his 112th game for the Reds against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on June 21, 2023.
  • With the result, Toronto FC’s MLS Season Opener record moves to 5W-9L-4T (19 points)