De Guzman: ‘Toronto FC Has No Fight Anymore’
Toronto FC’s 401 Derby loss to CF Montreal (again) has put the reds at just one win in their last nine matches across all competitions.
There’s a clear lack of player chemistry on the pitch and no clear path to acceptable results for a club which has splashed major cash on a hefty roster rebuild that, evidently, hasn’t gone to plan.
“It’s pretty hard to watch TFC in the state that they’re in right now,” said former Toronto FC DP Julian De Guzman on TSN. “We know that they’ve spent the most money in the league in terms of player signings. The quality of players they have individually, we know they’re good players, but the product isn’t showing on the pitch.”
“I think there’s a lot of missing fight in them. They just don’t have no more fight in them.”
To Clarify, De Guzman means fight in terms of the match. Toronto FC had some literal fight in them this weekend, with fists being thrown post-game after the club was blanked two-nil by league rivals CF Montreal on Saturday.
Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty perhaps highlighted how out-of-control things have gotten in the locker room when, after being sent off on Saturday, he returned to the pitch to join the disappointing post-game scenes. Bob Bradley has, it seems, lost control of the wheel – and this was in an away match with no travelling fans allowed after their home derby loss saw fights unfold in the stands and, right in the supporters’ section, a capo throw a megaphone in the direction of Mark-Anthony Kaye.
“I’ve played for this club myself as a former DP, and I’ve been in this moments. It’s very dark. I can only imagine how dark right now it is in this changeroom.”
“Nobody is motivated. Nobody wants to play. This is embarrassing when you see matches finish the way it does like this, and back-to-back games against CF Montreal – they’ve found a way to fight back. TFC has no more fight in them. That represents a poor soccer culture given that this is the biggest team in Canada, one of the biggest teams in MLS. There needs to be a serious, serious restructuring in this reset because there is a soccer culture that needs too be respected, but isn’t being respected.”
Things get worse for Toronto FC when you look at their nemesis from Le Belle Province: While CF Montreal suffered a rough start after several key players were sold following their playoff-reaching campaign last year, head coach Hernan Losada has now helped them to six straight wins – and rather than fixing things by splashing ludicrous cash, they’ve traded smartly and have entrusted talented local players like Jonathan Sirois, Sean Rea, and Mathieu Choiniere.
By contrast, the Bob Bradley era has seen the mass exodus of several young domestic talents, with the likes of Jayden Nelson, Jacob Shaffelburg, Noble Okello, Luca Petrasso, Julian Dunn, Liam Fraser, and Ralph Priso all moving on. The club had intended to supplement its expensive foreign signings these youngsters, but the feeling at the end of the day is that their exits proved a raw deal overall.
While Bradley was able to bring in some faces of his own and build up his own core ahead of the 2023 MLS season, the players currently on roster haven’t meshed on the pitch in the way they need to given the hefty investment made. Toronto FC now finds itself in the midst of an double-digit injury spell, so the tough times look to continue at BMO Field.
“We’ve seen how poor of the performances they’ve had in the last few games, and it’s not going to get any better at this point. It doesn’t matter what you do: I think the fingers point in one direction, and that’s at the coach. I think the coach needs to change. I think the problem with that, though, is that you’re not just changing the coach, you’re changing the sporting director.”
Bob Bradley’s time with the club has resulted in 14 wins, 24 losses, and 13 draws across all competitions – the second-worst points return since his arrival from LAFC, and a PPG return level with ill-fated TFC head coach Ryan Nelson, who had much less of a budget to work with. While most fans seemed to have been patient during Bradley’s first season in charge, the regression seen on the pitch this year has many asking for Bill Manning – who himself is under criticism – to make changes from the top down.
“From the fans, when you look at the quality of players that Toronto has, we’re not simply identifying the actual roots of the club. We’re just going beyond that by spending ridiculous money and not getting the ROI that we deserve to see,” adds De Guzman.
Toronto FC now finds itself dead last in the eastern conference, and the only way to go is up – but whether the club will entrust Bob Bradley to march them there remains to be seen. Perhaps indicative of this, three-time CPL champions Forge FC have inked Bobby Smyrniotis – a staple in ‘coaches who deserve an MLS shot’ conversations – to a new multi-year deal.
The two clubs directly above Toronto FC in the east, Chicago Fire and the New York Red Bulls, both loosed their head coaches this month after similarly disappointing results, but far less cash burned.
Adds De Guzman: “When you look at the DPs in Insigne and Bernardeschi, if you can’t convince these guys that money is gonna make them fight, then there’s nothing left in the tank for this entire team itself.”
Toronto FC will test itself against the New Yort Red Bulls – who are just one spot above them in the east and also on just twelve points – this Wednesday. If Bradley is to build any momentum and prove it has some fight in them, this would be the match to do it.