FCC starts MLS season with home matchup against Toronto FC

Lucho passes against Jonathan Osorio. June 21, 2023 - Photo Courtesy of Haggard Media
Lucho Acosta passes against Jonathan Osorio. June 21, 2023 - Photo Courtesy Haggard Media

Welcome Back to MLS!

After a brief offseason filled with mournful memories of the ending of the 2023 season, FC Cincinnati starts its 2024 campaign with an opportunity to remember the highlights of 2023. 

Toronto FC comes into town, fresh off of winning the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon, for a first-week matchup that will see FCC celebrate winning the Supporters Shield in front of them for a second time. This reliving of the past may allow Toronto to have a chance to shake off the dysfunction of 2023 or it could be a continued reminder of the previous season’s issues.

In the 2023 season, Toronto came in with high expectations. They had signed Italian superstars Federico Bernedeschi and Lorenzo Insigne, backed Head Coach Bob Bradley and gone big in MLS free agency to declare their intentions to be a contender. Instead, they had one of the most chaotic seasons in MLS history. The signings failed to hit. The Italian superstars were openly fighting with each other and the fans. And Bob Bradley was fired 20 games into the season.

Since then, they have brought in a new coach, ex-Canadian Men’s and Women’s National team manager John Herdeman, and not much else. Perhaps, this will be enough to fix the locker room, but there are still lingering questions for this team.

They have attempted to rectify some roster issues by bringing in Honduran defensive midfielder Deybi Flores, Irish center back Kevin Long, and Canadian right back Richie Laryea. And while they fit needs for the team, there are still other questions with the roster, with notable questions at striker and left back.

So what should we expect from the opponent this coming Sunday? It’s hard to say.

Toronto has been very lock and key about their preseason matches with very little information being passed along, leading to MLS Insider Tom Bogert having this exchange:

MLS Insider Tom Bogert Tweet

But, by reading preseason results and looking through the manager’s statements and past history, we can get some inferences. Herdmen has been a pretty traditional counter-attacking manager, wanting his team to sit deep and deny attacking opportunities. And when they win the ball, they will quickly move up the field and allow the talented attackers to run and create with freedom.

It seems doubtful FCC will replicate their dominance of Cavalier SC on Thursday, but we may have the chance to kick start the 2024 season by recreating the celebrations of 2023. ​​


Notable Absences:

FC Cincinnati

Matt Miazga – MLS Suspension

Nick Hagglund – Injury

Toronto FC

Brandon Servania – Injury

Start Time: Sun. Feb. 23, 2:30 PM

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Where to Watch: AppleTV MLS Season Pass

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