To say it’s been a disappoint start for the three Canadian teams in MLS would be an understatement. Of a possible twenty-nine points, the three teams have accumulated just three points between them. While the season is still young, it’s easy to get twitchy and start to panic, and as such – let’s touch with base the three teams, and see where the panic index lies for Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montreal.
Despite having the most points of the three Canadian teams, Toronto’s first three games have not matched the expectation. Toronto were going into 2023 with a full season of Italian star-duo Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne, two of the best players in MLS. In addition, they held on Richie Lareya and Johnathan Osorio and with 2021 MLS Cup winning keeper Sean Johnson between the sticks, the team has significantly upgraded at goalkeeper – their weakest position last season.
But it’s not clicked. Toronto were 2-1 up against DC United (the worst team in MLS in 2022) as late as the 90th minute, but managed to throw away the game thanks to some poor defending leading to a 3-2 defeat. To add insult to injury, Insigne was injured in the game and has missed time since. The following week, they were thoroughly outplayed in Atlanta, and if not for heroics from Johnson in goal – they would’ve lost this game handily, but thanks to a brilliant goal from Bernardeschi they escaped with a 1-1 draw. Finally we have their home opener against Columbus Crew. Toronto took the lead, but ultimately were out-shot and out-possessed by the Crew who equaliser seemed to come far too easily.
This is an expensive team. – The most expensive in the MLS in terms of payroll. One that should be near the top of the East. Instead they haven’t won an MLS game since August 27th 2022, and look like they still have a lot to work on – especially in midfield and a lot will depend on how soon Insigne comes back. It’s hard right now to see this team mount a serious challenge in the East, which is where MLSE and the fans ultimately wants this team to be given the recent investment,. Panic Score – 6.5/10
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The message from Vancouver was that this year the goal was playoffs – last year was supposed to be about winning the Canadian Championship and getting into the Champions League, whilst this season it was all about playoffs. Considering that Vancouver was just one win away from the playoffs last season, (when only seven teams got in) there is every reason for confidence to be high going into 2023.
Fast forward three games, the team has one point and considering how tough the West has been off late, it’s far from ideal. When they’re at their best, this team spearheaded by players like Ryan Gauld, Julian Gressel, Andrés Cubas and Cristian Dájome have looked like one of the best teams in the league, complete with intense pressing and energy that encapsulates their manager’s fiery spirit! However, Vanni Sartini’s side have had a bad habit of collapsing at the worst possible times. Against Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes, they twice took the less only to concede a quick fire brace of goals to lose both games 2-1. They followed that up with an early goal conceded against Dallas, but at least clawed it back this time for a draw.
In every game, Vancouver has conceded a goal from a cross into a box, highlighting s glaring weakness in this team, alongside some questionable substitutions. There is already apathy with this team over a general lack of success in MLS and off field controversy, Vancouver desperately needs a strong season, and as for their manager – a turnaround is needed sooner tether than later. Panic Score – 5.5/10
What a difference just a few months make? On October 23rd, Montreal hosted a home playoff game against NYC in which they were favoured to win and reach the MLS East Conference final. Instead, they lost 3-0 and it was the last Montreal game for key players Alistair Johnston, Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquín Torres, Kei Kamara and Ismaël Koné. So far they have failed to adequately replace any of those key players from 2022. To make matters worse, Wilfried Nancy – the mastermind of their record breaking 2022 campaign had a public falling out with ownership, and left for Columbus Crew. He was replaced by ex-DC United manager Hernán Losada but despite finishing second in the East in 2022, Montreal are expected to take a huge step backwards in 2023.
So far that has been the case, not only has Montreal lost all three games this season, they remain the only team not to score a goal this season. They have played well in spells, but without the ability of Koné, Mihailovic and Johnston to open up a defence, they severely lack a cutting edge at the moment.
The saving grace for Montreal is that this was expected, they were supposed to take a step back (although maybe not 0/9 points worth backwards). The team is yet to play a game at home, which could perhaps see the teams luck change, although last year their away form was the best in the league. It’s not the end of the world for Montreal to miss the playoffs in terms of expectation, but surly it must get better soon right? Panic Score -3.5/10
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