Toronto FC expects spirited cup rematch with semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent

Toronto FC expects spirited cup rematch with semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent

Semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent won Toronto FC‘s respect in the first leg of their Canadian Championship quarterfinal despite the 3-0 score in the MLS club’s favour.

And Toronto coach John Herdman expects the Ligue1 Quebec champion to “play with no fear” Tuesday in the return game at BMO Field.

“They’ve experienced it once before. They know we’re only human and they’ve seen that in the first leg,” said Herdman. “So I imagine they’ll come in with some confidence and, I guess, (with) that pressure off.”

“They’ll genuinely believe if they score one, they can score two,” he added. “That’s the dream that I know I would be trying to create with my players. I expect them to come in excited, full of confidence and with no real weight of expectations which maybe they had in that first game.”

The challenges have come on and off the field, with plenty of media attention on Saint-Laurent during a cup run that started May 2 with an upset penalty shootout win over the CPL’s Halifax Wanderers.

“It’s been a lot and very fast, from playing Halifax to playing Toronto and playing Toronto a second time, it’s been 2 1/2 weeks. It feels like a year,” said Saint-Laurent coach Nick Razzaghi.

But he says his team’s focus is simple.

“Right now we’re just trying to win (Tuesday’s) game.”

Also Tuesday in cup play, the Vancouver Whitecaps take a 2-1 lead into their rematch with Cavalry FC at B.C. Place Stadium.

On Wednesday, it’s Forge FC at CF Montreal (first leg was 1-1) and Atletico Ottawa at Pacific FC (0-0) in the other two quarterfinals.

The Toronto-Saint-Laurent winner will play either Montreal or Forge in the two-legged semifinal.

Saint-Laurent can perhaps feel hard done by the opening leg, which was scoreless for the first 50 minutes.

Matty Longstaff‘s opening goal came through a mass of bodies, with goalkeeper Kosta Maniatis screened. The second, by Deandre Kerr, came on a counter-attack after Saint-Laurent was denied a penalty for an Aime Mabika handball in the Toronto penalty box. The third was a Federico Bernardeschi free kick that caught Maniatis out of position organizing his team’s defensive wall.

“I thought it was a proper cup tie,” said Herdman. “It was a nervy one for us, that’s for sure.”

He expects Saint-Laurent, whose roster includes players with international futsal experience, to shine on the big pitch at BMO Field.

“It’s going to be a real good opportunity for some of these players to put their hand up for the Canadian Premier League and maybe even to be knocking on MLS Next…

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