Toronto FC played their final preseason match on Saturday, losing 1-0 to LAFC.

Following a scoreless first half, LAFC took the lead in the 63rd minute when a Denis Bouanga ball into the box from the right caromed off the knee of Aimé Mabika.

Despite the result, head coach John Herdman was pleased with the outing.

“Really happy with the performance,” he said post-match. “The result sometimes doesn't reflect the performance and as coaches you’ve got to be happy with what you see out there: effort, tactical cohesion. We were able to put out maybe not our best lineup yet, but close to it and we really competed.”

“Seeing Fede [Federico Bernardeschi] come close, hitting the bar twice, and conceding a bit of a cheap own-goal,” Herdman listed. “LA maybe had three/four shots on target the whole game and one of them canning in on a deflection was difficult to see.”

“[The side] deserved more, but sometimes the football gods aren't going to give you it yet,” he continued. “And really the main time is next week when the season starts, that's when we'll need a little bit of that football luck, but performance wise it was similar to Columbus, very cohesive, similar to Salt Lake, similar to Nashville, just missing the goals today. Many good chances, but we haven't found the back of the net.”

Having gotten the starting group rest against Real Salt Lake midweek by limiting their minutes, Herdman pushed his players in this 90 minute outing.

The starting group included Bernardeschi, Alonso Coello, Deybi Flores, Kobe Franklin, Sean Johnson, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jonathan Osorio, Shane O’Neill, Raoul Petretta, and a pair of trialists.

Ayo Akinola and Sigurd Rosted replaced O’Neill and a trialist after 30 minutes; Mabika came on for Petretta at half-time.

Luke Singh, Prince Owusu, Tyrese Spicer, and Kosi Thompson all saw action in the final 20 minutes.


“Physically we pushed,” observed Herdman. “We got rattled a little bit after the goal, so to see us dominate the last 12-15 minutes of the game with high pressing and high intensity showed our fitness levels were there.”

“I never made many subs today. Raoul Petretta had had a virus, Shane O'Neill had returned back from Ireland after a family bereavement. Those players came out really early in the game,” he continued. “Physically the team were right there, competing, and they connected. They didn't suffer like I seen last season after they conceded the goal – and it was one of those deflating type of goals – but the response was right there, it was excellent. Hitting the crossbar, missing from six/seven yards, we had a great chance to score. It was a good day, I’m happy.”

Final preparation match in the book, preseason is over. The side will return to Toronto and begin working toward the opening match of the regular season on Sunday against defending Supporters’ Shield champions FC Cincinnati.

The journey begins.

“The team spirits there, there's technical cohesion. We've been hard to beat,” assessed Herdman of his team’s development over these four matches.

“Teams aren’t getting that sustained possession against us and we're creating good chances.”

“We've scored a lot of goals in the preseason as well, so I'm happy with that – five goals and that was a problem last season – we're, on the football side, tracking well,” he continued. “We just need to add more players, that's the bottom line.”

“We're going to keep pushing,” Herdman ended.” The window doesn't close until April and there's still time before the start of the season and I'd like to see at least one or two players in the door before that first game to strengthen this squad.”