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Herdman expects another Toronto FC to emerge against Nashville on Wednesday

Herdman expects another Toronto FC to emerge against Nashville on Wednesday

TORONTO – Toronto FC got a harsh dose of reality from coach John Herdman after Saturday’s poor performance in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire. Better is needed. Jobs are at stake.

TORONTO – Toronto FC got a harsh dose of reality from coach John Herdman after Saturday’s poor performance in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire.

Better is needed. Jobs are at stake. And TFC still has a long way to go on the road to respectability.

“It’s going to take time. We came into something that was broken,” said Herdman, who inherited the worst team in Major League Soccer last October. “We’ve repaired some of it, but there’s definitely more that needs to be repaired.”

Repair work continues Wednesday against visiting Nashville SC (4-5-8).

After a strong start to the season, Toronto (7-8-3) has fallen to seventh in the Eastern Conference and is five points behind a top-four finish that comes with home field advantage to open the playoffs .

Herdman’s team is winless in their last four league matches (0-2-2) and has won only one of their last seven games (1-4-2), in which they were defeated 16-13.

The low point was Saturday’s defeat against Chicago, in which Toronto gifted the visitors goals with all kinds of blunders.

“I have never been so disappointed with women, men, youth teams, whatever, in my 30 years of coaching career,” an emotional Herdman said after the match. “This one sucks.”

Two days later, Herdman was less emotional but still unhappy after seeing part of the announced crowd of 28,303 people head for the exit of BMO Field early as his team conceded goals in the 57th, 60th and 89th minutes.

“If you come out of the emotion, it’s a 4-1 loss. It’s a disappointing loss,” Herdman said. “But for this group, they have to clean up defensively. We made a promise there to our fans, to each other, to ensure that there is more discipline in all areas.”

Still, Herdman says jobs are at stake, noting that a large number of his players (17) are on expiring contracts.

“People are playing for their future here,” he said.

“We have had some good results. We are higher in the standings than people expected. But people are comfortable… This club has not proven anything yet,” he added.

On the plus side for Toronto, Italian star Federico Bernardeschi and defenseman Nicksoen Gomis return from suspension on Wednesday. Striker Prince Owusu, who was limited to a 27-minute cameo this weekend due to a calf problem, is expected to get more minutes.

Wingback Tyrese Spicer, who missed the Chicago game with a back injury, will undergo a late fitness test.

Thanks to goals in the 81st and 91st minutes, Nashville defeated a depleted Toronto 2-0 when they met at Geodis Park on May 15. Toronto was missing Herdman and nine players, five of whom, like Herdman, were suspended after a post-match fight with New York City FC.

Despite the win, Nashville fired longtime coach Gary Smith the next day and named player development coach Rumba Munthali as interim coach. Born in Zambia, Munthali grew up in Brampton, Ontario, and played for the Toronto Lynx.

He expects a return from Toronto on Wednesday.

“It’s always difficult to play against teams that have had a negative result or a result they didn’t want,” Munthali said. “Their coach has expressed his opinion about that match, so I expect them to be full of energy and focused on making sure they try to get a positive result against us.

“So I think it’s going to happen at a very difficult time against Toronto. They have a lot of offensive pieces that are very dangerous, so if we’re not careful and concerned about what we’re doing, we’re going to have some problems.”

Both teams will feel the heat. The weather forecast indicates that it will be 28 degrees Celsius on Wednesday evening, with a feeling of 37 degrees Celsius, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation.

Nashville has lost just one of five games (1-1-3) since beating Toronto in May and has posted shutouts in three of its last four games. Nashville has conceded the fewest goals (five) in MLS since May 1.

Nashville goaltender Joe Willis has four shutouts in his last six starts, bringing his career total to 64.

“That side is good,” Nashville defenseman Daniel Lovitz said, referring to his team’s defensive performance recently.

“It’s up to us to figure out how to be a little more creative and put the ball in the back of the net,” the former TFC player added. “I think this is a group effort.”

Both teams are missing players.

Toronto captain/midfielder Jonathan Osorio and fullback Richie Laryea (Canada) and goalkeeper Sean Johnson (USA) are at the Copa America. Defender Shane O’Neill and midfielder Brandon Servania are absent for a long time due to injuries.

Nashville winger Jacob Shaffelburg, a former TFC player, is also with Canada, while midfielder Aníbal Godoy is with Panama and defender Shaq Moore with American-Canadian defender Lukas MacNaughton, another former TFC player, is absent with an ankle injury.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press