After 14 games without a win, Toronto FC finally won a match on Wednesday, Aug. 30 at home against the now fourth-placed Philadelphia Union by a 3-1 score.
It was Toronto’s first game since former Canada Men’s National Team head coach John Herdman was announced as the next Toronto FC head coach after Bob Bradley was fired earlier in the season. Herdman attended the game against the Union, and Toronto – where he will take over on Oct. 1 – must have impressed their future head coach.
Lorenzo Insigne, the Napoli legend and former Italy National Team member, opened the scoring 23 minutes into the game when 20-year-old striker Deandre Kerr sent a low cross to Insigne, who finished from just outside the six-yard box.
That was not Kerr’s biggest contribution of the game: After Julian Carranza leveled the score just before halftime, Kerr received the ball in the box in the 58th minute and took a couple touches before finishing with his left foot past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Jonathan Osorio iced the game five minutes after Kerr’s goal, as the 31-year-old Canadian snuck between two defenders to nod home a cross from 20-year-old right back Kobe Franklin.
Toronto FC controlled the ball for most of the game, keeping 57% possession.
The hosts were also more clinical: They scored three goals on 1.81 expected goals, while the Union scored a single goal on 2.27 xG.
Shot selection and quality helped make the difference: half of Toronto’s 12 shots tested the keeper while just three were blocked, whereas only two of Philly’s 17 shots hit the target while five of those shots were blocked by defenders.
Toronto also won 55% of duels for the ball, showing they imposed themselves physically and made the Union work for everything on the pitch.
Herdman and the club clearly had the future in mind when signing a deal, as Herdman will take over at the start of October when Toronto will have just four matches remaining.
But if the victory over Philadelphia sparks a positive run of form, Herdman and the decision-makers at the club could face some tough decisions in the offseason as to whether they should rebuild or keep the squad together.
The ex-Canada coach will reunite with Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and Richie Laryea, all of whom played under Herdman at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
More strong showings from Kerr and Franklin would give Herdman some young talent to build around, and if Insigne and fellow Italian Federico Bernardeschi start living up to their reputations, Toronto could find itself in a much better position after this disappointing season.