Toronto FC

Reds fall to New York City FC in Leagues Cup Opener

Toronto FC lost 5-0 to NYCFC on Wednesday night in their 2023 Leagues Cup opener at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

Maxime Chanot opened the scoring in the 30th minute with a strong header from an NYCFC corner kick. Monsef Bakrar made it 2-0 in the 45th minute when he pounced on a rebound, roofing it into the net, and Santiago Rodríguez added the third in the second minute of stoppage-time when his shot took a massive deflection.

TFC made a trio of changes at half-time to stem the tide, but Andreas Jasson capped off a devastating counterattack in the 56th minute to confirm the result and a second from Rodríguez in the 75th minute on another transition moment capped a forgettable night.

“We started the game well, the first 30 minutes we found some nice rhythm at times with the ball,” said Terry Dunfield post-match. “The first three goals we conceded at difficult times. Just before the water break we give up a corner. It’s frustrating to give up a set-piece, albeit a good header, and then the two just before half-time come from difficult turnovers and a little bit of luck on the third too, the deflection.”

“We come in at half-time, we regroup, change our shape a little bit,” he continued. “At times our football was OK, but at key moments we don’t make plays, small errors are compounded, and NYCFC were very good in transition.”

The opening half hour was back-and-forth. NYCFC, having lost their Leagues Cup opener to Club Atlas, were determined to stay alive. 

Sean Johnson made a big save on Bakrar in the 5th minute and Jasson ripped an effort just over the bar four minutes later at one end. Kobe Franklin whipped a volley just wide of the far-post from a Raoul Petretta cross and Jordan Perruzza tested the keeper on the end of an Alonso Coello cross up the other end in the next five minutes. 

But once New York took the lead there was no looking back.

“Part of it is down to resilience,” said Dunfield. “That when we do take a punch that we are able to take it and continue to play and be brave and pass the ball.”

In his fifth game as the interim head coach, Dunfield shared his words to the team in the locker room after the final whistle: “The first thing I said to the players after the game was ‘Thank you for your efforts, particularly in the second half. We kept going under difficult circumstances.’”

“The second thing, I brought all the staff in the room, I said, ‘We're not going to give up on you. We believe in you as a group. We'll review our processes and where we can do better as a staff to set you up for success. We'll continue to live our principles, which are staying positive, creating a high performance environment, and being purposeful with everything that we do.’”

Toronto faces Mexican side Club Atlas at BMO Field on Sunday. In the final months of a long and hard season, the Leagues Cup offered a clean slate.

“That's part of the frustration,” said Dunfield of the defeat. “We started on a level playing field, there's an excitement and freshness to the competition. It's a nice opportunity to play a Liga MX side. MLS sides have represented the league well and we'll be trying to do the same on Sunday.”