Toronto FC look to regroup after Canadian Championship defeat to rival Montreal

TORONTO – Wednesday night’s defeat was both familiar and not for Toronto FC.

Toronto lost the 2019 Canadian Championship final to the Montreal Impact at BMO Field, ending their run of three-straight CanChamp titles in a penalty shootout after clawing back to level the series 1-1 on aggregate in the home leg.

Penalties have been a nemesis over the last few seasons for the Reds, who have now lost an MLS Cup, a Concacaf Champions League title and a Voyageurs Cup on spot kicks since 2016.

“I don’t really care for shootouts, obviously,” said head coach Greg Vanney post-match. “We’re not very good at them. I would like the game to be won on the field, but we were down to ten men as well, so a bunch of extra time would not be great on the night either. It’s a way to end the game so you’re not going on forever, but it’s not served us very well over the years.”

With two league matches left before the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off in October, Jonathan Osorio found little solace in the moment – having lost to their rivals, at home – despite having that next challenge to look towards.

“No, if we won today then it would have been the same thing anyways,” said Osorio. “This one stings. We’re disappointed, but tomorrow we leave this in the past and we focus on the playoffs, trying to make a run to the MLS Cup.”

As Osorio was doing his postgame scrum, the Impact players rushed past in full voice on way to interrupting Wilmer Cabrera’s press conference, much to his continued displeasure.

Toronto now have to lick their wounds before turning to Saturday’s match away to the Chicago Fire.

“This competition is over now,” said goalkeeper Alex Bono. “It’s disappointing we weren’t able to lift the trophy again, but, for us, we know there is more for this group. We’re in position to do some more special things this year, that’s what our focus is on.”

“Tonight is over, our sole focus is on the league,” he continued. “We’ve got two regular season games and then playoffs. We know what lies ahead, it’s our job to flip the switch, put away this competition and focus on the league now.”

Vanney admitted a hangover from such an emotional blow, losing not only the trophy, but a shot at the Concacaf Champions League next season, is possible, but expects his side to persevere.

“We all like to win championships, we lose out on Champions League – that can be good and bad,” explained Vanney. “It’s bad because as professionals it’s something we strive to compete for and win. It’s not the worst thing in the world that our season doesn’t start early next year and we get full preparation.”

“I don’t look at it that way,” he continued. “I see it as an opportunity lost more than anything. We regroup. There is potential, but [through] strength of character, we bounce back.”

Toronto have clinched their spot in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, but are jostling currently with D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls, and the New England Revolution for a home match in the first round.

“We’ve got one more game to go in this stretch of seven in 22 days,” said the coach. “It’s tough because you still have an opponent [in Chicago] that has a sniff of the playoffs and is putting everything into it. We’re playing for position in the playoff standings too.”

“Tomorrow the guys will get off, hopefully they can clear their minds, relax, and then we’ll start our preparations,” added Vanney. “Starting tomorrow the focus and everything will be on preparing for playoffs, winning these two games.”