FC Cincinnati enters their match against Toronto FC with one objective: Win and claim the MLS regular season title.
One win to be crowned kings of the league. A league that just two years ago was unanimously pointing and laughing at them.
Toronto comes into this game hoping they can avoid winning the last trophy they thought they would win this year, the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon.
In what started out as a season with tremendous hope for trophies, it turned into a dilapidated slide to possibly being the worst team in MLS.
In summer 2022, Toronto FC announced they were bringing in Italian superstars Fernando Bernedeschi and Lorenzo Insigne with the promise that 2023 would be the promised land of trophies and glory. They even brought in solid MLS pieces like Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Defender Matt Hedges and attacking journeyman Victor Vasquez into the squad in the 2023 winter window.
Instead, the organization has fallen into utter chaos. Insigne and Bernedeschi have failed to mesh on the field, and have appeared to be actively warring off the field. The front office pushed out prominent American coach Bob Bradley after spending the offseason lauding his expertise as the right leader for the job. The dysfunctional state of their front office under President Bill Manning has also been revealed and led to some of their winter signings being traded within the league.
As a result, the season has been a disaster, and led to a team sitting in last place in the league, one point behind the Colorado Rapids, and the first team eliminated from playoff contention.
Despite the high water level of turmoil over the summer having receded, the recent results do not point to a squad that has turned things around. Toronto has lost five of their six games since the Leagues Cup restart and lost their last two by a combined score of 7-0.
This comes after appointing Canadian Men’s National Team Coach John Herdman as their new manager to guide them into 2024. And while it isn’t uncommon for an incoming manager to sit out a match to avoid an expected poor loss on their resume, it is somewhat telling about the state of the squad that nearly a month after that decision, Toronto is still being led by Interim Manager Terry Dunfield.
For FCC, there may be no riper opponent to get a win against, and while no result is guaranteed, if they genuinely are the deserving Shield winners everyone believes they are, we should expect them to crush this game and come home with silverware.
Game Time: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, 7:30 p..m
Location: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Where to Watch: Free on MLS Season Pass, Apple TV