Canadian clubs residing in the MLS soccer league will be glad for the international break. Only one team in Toronto FC have managed to claim three points throughout a shared 12 fixtures between the Great White North based clubs.
Canadian soccer fans will remember March 27, 2022, for their entire lives.
At the BMO Field this past Sunday, the Canadian men’s national team qualified for their first World Cup since 1986. The atmosphere was euphoric, and history was made as the team finished a domineering playoff campaign to be eligible for Dubai 2022 with one game to spare.
However, Canadian MLS fans of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal haven’t enjoyed the same celebrations.
Since the 2022/23 MLS season began, four fixtures have been played, and all of the Canada-based squads are positioned at the bottom of their respective divisions, as Toronto FC has been the lone squad to find victory thus far.
Toronto FC Make a Comeback
On March 18, 2022, newly appointed coach Bob Bradley welcomed a visiting DC United squad with optimism. Still, after two losses and one draw to start the season, the same optimism couldn’t be found amongst the critics and oddsmakers.
Bet365 Ontario gave Toronto a 43% probability of a home victory (+130 odds), and we shouldn’t be surprised. During the 2021 season, Toronto lost consecutive MLS meetings with DC United and one of those meetings ended in a 7-1 embarrassment. Sportsbooks prepared themselves for another letdown result by Toronto, and their expectations seemed accurate after the first 10 minutes of play.
D.C. United’s Russell Canouse slotted the first goal beyond Toronto’s goal line just 10 minutes into the game, and the live odds on the home side skyrocketed. However, just 14 minutes later and Alejandro Pozuelo equalized the game when a well-placed corner kick was delivered into his path.
Canadian international Jonathan Osorio obtained his 50th career goal and game-winner for Toronto FC during the second half of play.
This victory marked the first win for a Canadian MLS team, and nerves of Bradley could be relaxed heading into the international break. In addition, it became Toronto’s first winning result against D.C. United in over four years, breaking a nine-game winless run that dates back to 2017.
Vancouver Whitecaps Disappoint Again
The confidence boost obtained in Toronto couldn’t be emulated by their Canadian counterparts, Vancouver Whitecaps, heading into the World Cup international break.
Following three weeks of MLS action, the Whitecaps headed into week 4 with much optimism. Unfortunately, they were faced with the league leaders, LAFC, and were subsequently defeated 3-1 at the Banc of California Stadium.
The result wasn’t surprising, as LAFC are one of the favorites to win the 2022 MLS Cup, but this doesn’t alter the frustrations looming in Vancouver. After four matchdays, the Whitecaps have lost 3 and drawn 1, positioning them in last place of the MLS Western Conference.
Head coach Vanni Sartini will be happy for the international break, with a chance to recoup and return to action with a fresh mindset. The loss to LAFC was even more painstaking as they took an early lead; however, it was all downhill from then.
Taking an early lead and then losing it has been a trend that started when they faced the Houston Dynamo, a failure to hold on in defense ended in a 2-1 loss.
“We knew it was going to be hard,” said Sartini.
“We had some good, some bad,” added Javain Brown. “We can’t blame anyone but us, but this is a great group; we will get things right.”
CF Montreal Match Vancouver’s Downtrend
And the Whitecaps aren’t the only Canadian-based team struggling in the early stages of the MLS campaign. CF Montreal is situated in an identical position to their Canadian counterparts, with 3 losses and 1 draw in the Eastern Conference; Montreal avoids rock bottom within the MLS table only because Inter Miami has a worse goal difference.
Montreal lost the lead during their week 4 matchup prior to the international break in another comparable situation to the Whitecaps. Following a 3-1 lead over Atlanta United and a red card for the opposing team, two late strikes levelled the game as Montreal watched three points disappear within minutes.
Despite the loss, head coach Gonzalo Pineda still praised his side’s determination.
“It says a lot about the team’s heart, and for me, that is essential“, Pineda commented.
“I just told them that sometimes when we are not sharp, we’re not good in possession, we are not finding the paces, the minimum requirement is for us to put everything into every fifty-fifty ball to win duels, to be willing to press. To be willing to do double duty at times.”