Toronto FC’s MLS campaign ended on Sunday with a 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union for a fifth consecutive defeat, indicating that there is much work to be done on the roster after last season. It was almost completely renovated.
Daniel Gazdag had a hat trick and Mikael O’Hare added a single for Philadelphia (19-5-10), which moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with the win.
With a goal and an assist in his first half, Gazdag became only the sixth player in league history to score at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a season.
Union goalkeeper Andrew Black posted his league-leading 15th clean sheet of the season as Philadelphia outshot Toronto 18-6 (9-1 in goals).
A depleted Toronto (9-18-7) suffered its third straight shutout and ended the season with a 293-minute scoring drought. Toronto’s season ended with just one win in its last nine contests (1-6-2).
TFC conceded four goals in their last five games to match last season’s franchise-worst total of 66 goals against. Its last win was a 2-0 decision in Charlotte on August 27.
Toronto was eliminated from postseason contention with a 4-0 loss to Orlando City SC on Sept. 17 and would have finished 13th in the Eastern Conference without Sunday’s results.
It’s the same position as 2021 in a campaign that cost coach Chris Armas and his successor Javier Perez their jobs.
TFC went 15-36-17 when Greg Viney stepped down as coach in December 2020.
Toronto got off to a terrible start on Sunday, giving up a goal to the Panthers in the fourth minute.
The Hungary international was left unmarked in the Toronto penalty box, volleying the ball home after TFC failed to clear.
It was Toronto’s ninth goal in the first 15 minutes of the game this season.
Ten minutes later, Argentina forward Julian Carranza hit a shot off the crossbar and Toronto’s defense came up short again.
Toronto keeper Quentin Westberg brought down O’Hare outside the penalty box in the 41st minute but escaped punishment when the offside flag was raised.
A minute later, Gazdag found Oher behind the TFC defense and the Danish forward waited for defender Lucas McNaughton’s pursuit to slip past him before slotting home his 13th goal of the season.
Toronto had a chance to get a goal back in the first half but Marc-Anthony Kaye’s shot from a Jesus Jimenez feed was blocked by defender Olivier Mbayzo. It was TFC’s only goal of the half.
Kaye unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty in the 55th minute as he collided with defender Matt Real.
Referee Lukasz Szapala pointed to the penalty spot in the 58th minute for a handball on Toronto’s Shane O’Neal in Philadelphia’s corner.
The defender didn’t know much about him when the ball came off Ohre.
Gazdag made no mistake with the spot kick in the 60th minute. He scored again three minutes later, slicing through the Toronto defense and beating Westberg for his 22nd of the campaign.
Hugo Mbong, an 18-year-old homegrown forward, made his team debut for Toronto off the bench in the 68th minute.
Philadelphia could have scored more if it weren’t for Westberg as TFC’s defense all but broke down in the dying minutes.
Toronto was missing four starters on Sunday.
Italians Lorenzo Insini and Domenico Crescito were both out with lower-body injuries while midfielder Jonathan Osorio remained sidelined with what he called a “nervous weakness”. Full-back Richie Laria is suspended.
With Christo and Larrea both out, coach Bob Bradley switched to a back three.
Osorio has played just 18 minutes since a 2-1 loss at Inter Miami on August 20. The veteran Canadian is dealing with the consequences of an elbow to the head in a match on July 13 in Chicago.
On the plus side, Italian winger Federico Bernardeschi, who was listed as questionable with a lower-body injury, made the starting 11. Midfielder Cosey Thompson is sidelined with a lower back injury.
Philadelphia was without suspended star fullback Kai Wagner. Captain Alejandro Bedoya, who had missed the last two games with a hip problem, came off the bench in the 74th minute.
TFC has gone 17-5 after losing five straight. That streak follows a 4-1-3 run that coincided with the arrivals of Ansegen and Bernardeschi.
Sunday’s scenario was simple for Philadelphia, which went into the deciding day two points ahead of CF Montreal.
A loss or tie with a Montreal win would drop the Union to second place, and give Montreal a first-round playoff bye, home-field advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs and possibly the MLS Cup if LAFC survives.
Montreal had the tiebreaker edge with more wins. Montreal (20-9-5) won 3-1 at Inter Miami.
Union were hoping to win the Supporters’ Shield, which goes to the team with the best regular season record. But a 0-0 draw in Atlanta and a 4-0 defeat in Charlotte allowed Los Angeles FC to take first place overall – with a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League spot to go with it.
Philadelphia went 11-2-1 before being eliminated last season.
Philadelphia came into Sunday’s game as the only MLS team to go undefeated at home (11-0-5) outscoring its opponents 45-9 this season, including 34-34 in its last seven games at Subaru Park. 4.
The 34 goals and plus-30 goal differential is the largest in any span of seven home games in league history.
Toronto finished 2-11-4 on the road.