Led by John Herdman, resurgent Toronto FC putting recent dismal past behind it

Led by John Herdman, resurgent Toronto FC putting recent dismal past behind it

TORONTO — Toronto FC‘s bid under John Herdman to put its recent dismal past behind it took a step forward Saturday with a lopsided 5-1 win over CF Montreal.

Victories over TFC’s archrival are always welcome, especially if they are emphatic.

But Saturday’s romp improved Toronto’s record to 7-6-1, good for 22 points which matched the club’s entire total last season when it finished last in MLS at 4-20-10. And this year’s team achieved that with 20 regular-season outings remaining (with 60 points still on the table).

Whether that’s a statement of how bad last year’s squad was or how good this one is remains to be seen.

“I forgot about (last season), honestly,” Italian star Federico Bernardeschi, Saturday’s hat-trick hero, said in English. “I don’t want to speak about last season.”

“I’m just proud of them. They put a hell of a shift in,” Herdman said of his players.

Injury-ravaged Montreal, missing eight players, served up a dose of 2023 TFC with some horrible defending, however

Toronto went ahead in the sixth minute with a deft Lorenzo Insigne pass finding Tyrese Spicer behind the defence on the left flank. The rookie wingback threaded a cross between goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois and Joel Waterman to an open Matty Longstaff with an empty goal in front of him.

Bernardeschi made it 2-0 in the 13th minute, taking a long pass from Deybi Flores with nary a defender in sight before roofing a left-footed rocket.

Prince Owusu added to the lead in the 19th minute as Montreal was punished for attempting to play the ball out of the back. Waterman tried to find Mathieu Choiniere with a pass that the midfielder was unable to coral in the penalty box. The ball went instead to Insigne, who fed Owusu in front for his sixth goal of the season.

“We lost balls in areas that were very dangerous for us,” said Sirois, pointing to something Toronto has done time and time again in recent seasons.

Montreal (3-7-3) has now lost four straight in league play and won just one of its last 11 (1-7-3) in all competitions. And most worrying it has conceded 31 goals in 13 games — 15 in its last four league outings alone.

A troubled Waterman said he was “running out of answers.”

“I still believe in the process, still believe in what we’re trying to do fully,” he said. “But you can’t teach intensity, you can’t teach desire and you can’t teach competitiveness. so we’re lacking in a lot of those areas and I don’t know why. If you can’t get motivated for a game like this, I don’t know.

“It’s definitely…

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