Toronto FC played their third match of preseason on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 against Real Salt Lake over 90 minutes.  

Federico Bernardeschi scored the goal for Toronto in the first half, bursting in-field from the right before placing a low left-footed shot past the keeper. Real Salt Lake pulled level in the second half.

As John Herdman foreshadowed prematch his side was split into two groups with the first – Ayo Akinola, Federico Bernardeschi, Alonso Coello, Deybi Flores, Sean Johnson, Deandre Kerr, Jonathan Osorio, Sigurd Rosted, Luke Singh, Tyrese Spicer, and an unnamed trialist – featuring for the first half-hour or so and the second seeing out the remaining 60 minutes.

Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty replaced Spicer early, as the draft pick’s minutes were being managed with him unavailable for portions of preseason, while the rest of the second group – Kosi Thompson, Jesús Batiz, Latif Blessing, Casius Mailula, Hugo Mbongue, Greg Ranjitsingh, Aimé Mabika, Kobe Franklin, Adam Pearlman, and Philip Igbinobaro – filtered in as the match continued.

Pearlman and Igbinobaro both joined camp recently; Pearlman has since departed to join the Canadian Men's U20 side ahead of qualification for the 2024 Concacaf U20 Championship which kicks off on February 23. Of that first group, Singh played the full 90.

“Good progress, everything's a stepping stone,” said the TFC coach post-match. “We were able to manage the intensity today given the tight turnaround from the Columbus game and we're settled now going into LAFC. We've gotten players rest today to give them more ability to bring that intensity in our final game.”

Toronto will face LAFC on Saturday in their final preseason match.

“And then on the other side is the assessment,” Herdman continued. “It’s been really important to see the players. Some of them have grown through this period of time as they have gotten more comfortable tactically. Today the pitch was a bit disappointing, it was hard to get that attack in rhythm, we had to skip lines and win the second phase.”

“There was a step forward in some of the defensive areas today, but I'd like to see more of an attacking edge, particularly from that group that played in the 60 minutes,” he added. “That's something we'll continue to work on, but, all in all, positive steps with [that first] group of players."

"They've played three matches, three clean-sheets, and five goals. That group took big steps every game."

"They could have dropped their standards today with the [tight] turnaround, but they maintained a good standard.”

Another inch towards the opening match of the MLS regular season on February 25 away to defending Supporters’ Shield champions FC Cincinnati.

“There were areas for improvement, but certainly some bright spells as well,” assessed Herdman. “The game was a little bit scrappy to start with and then our team in the first 30 minutes found their rhythm. They had a goal to win their 30 minutes. It was important that they did, with a goal and a clean-sheet.”

“I was happy for Bernardeschi to get back on the score sheet,” he continued. “The 30 minutes at the beginning, really happy defensively, it was sound and there were some good moments to score.”

“And then in the last 60 minutes we rotated the squad. That's another assessment moment for those players. A lot of guys are fighting to be part of our 20-man roster on day one,” Herdman added. “There were some good performances there. We were a little bit soft on the goal and haven't been able, with that group, to score a goal yet, so that's something we're going to keep working on, keep pushing those players to just add a little bit more attacking edge to their play, but defensively they were more resolute than the way they finished that 30 minutes against Columbus, that was the step forward.”