We break down Toronto FC’s season opener, which saw them take a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw versus FC Dallas in Texas.
MLS is back and Toronto FC fans couldn’t be happier. No matter how bad last year was for the club, every new season usually brings a sense of renewed optimism.
In that respect, TFC only increased the optimism with a hard-working and thoroughly deserved point in Texas. Here is a countdown of our four takeaways from the game versus FC Dallas, together with other game notes and quote of the day:
4) The Canadian influence
As most MLS fans are well aware, Toronto FC is one of just three Canadian teams representing the country in the league. As such, it’s always a proud moment whenever a Canadian steps on the field to play.
In this respect, Saturday was a particularly special occasion, with five Canadians featured in TFC’s starting lineup. These included goalscorer Jonathan Osorio, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jacob Shaffelburg, Jayden Nelsen and Deandre Kerr, who was making his debut.
Three of the five were teenagers (Marshall-Rutty, Nelsen and Keer), alluding to the long-term excitement and potential surrounding the club. It also reinforced how much time and commitment has been put into the academy, to find and develop young talent.
Shaffelburg and Marshall-Rutty were notable for each playing in new positions, at left and right fullback respectively. Both players performed well all things considered, and should only improve as the season progresses and they become more comfortable in their new positions.
3) Attacking threat
Last year was a tough one for the Reds when it come to goals, with only five clubs scoring fewer times during the 2021 regular season. They had their worst goals-per-game average since 2013 and their leading scorers were Osorio and Jozy Altidore, with just four apiece.
With Altidore now gone, Ayo Akinola injured and Lorenzo Insigne not in Toronto yet, there were understandable concerns ahead of Saturday’s game. This concern would dissipate however, as the visitors caused plenty of issues for FC Dallas when on the attack.
You can understand why head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley wanted to play Shaffleburg and Marshall-Rutty; both players have pace and energy which should boost the TFC attack all season. Jesus Jimenez provided more glimpses of what he can offer up front and it’s telling that he and Shaffleburg were crucial in setting up the Reds’ goal on the day.
The buildup play to the equalizer was impressive, with Osorio providing the finishing touch in the final minute of the first half; he has now scored in all 10 of his seasons in MLS. However, it seems unlikely he will be leading the way in scoring again this year, which is good news for a Toronto FC club which is going to be a better attacking threat compared to last season.