May 27th, 2024

Toronto FC beats semi-pro side CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in Canadian Championship

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on May 8, 2024.

CS Saint-Laurent's goalkeeper Konstantinos Maniatis stops Toronto FC's Deandre Kerr (29) during first half Canadian Championship quarterfinal soccer action in Montreal, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – Matty Longstaff broke a deadlock in the 50th minute and Toronto FC went on to defeat semi-pro side CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in the opening leg of their Canadian Championship quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Longstaff blasted a shot past goalkeeper Kosta Maniatis into the top-right corner after a back pass from Cassius Mailula inside the box.

Deandre Kerr scored in the 59th minute and Federico Bernardeschi, who entered as a substitute in the second half, scored off a free kick in the 76th as Toronto dampened Saint-Laurent’s Cinderella run.

Goalkeeper Luka Gavran earned a clean sheet.

Saint-Laurent upset Canadian Premier League side Halifax Wanderers FC 2-2 (5-3) in a penalty shootout last Thursday to set up the matchup against heavily favoured TFC of Major League Soccer.

The Ligue1 Quebec champions were the first team from the league to reach this stage of the competition.

An announced attendance of 6,482 fans – including some who lit flares in the stands – cheered with every Saint-Laurent touch and clearance on a rainy, 9 C night at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

Many Saint-Laurent players juggle school and up to two jobs while training four times a week.

Meanwhile, Italian stars Lorenzo Insigne and Bernardeschi earned US$15.4 million and $6.3 million, respectively, last season for Toronto.

The return leg is May 21 at BMO Field and the winner will meet either MLS’s CF Montreal or the CPL’s Forge FC in the semifinal. The two teams are tied 1-1 on aggregate after the first leg.

Atletico Ottawa and Pacific FC of the CPL played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.

TFC made eight changes from the starting 11 that beat FC Dallas 3-1 on Saturday. Captain and longtime Canadian national team player Jonathan Osorio headlined the starters.

Toronto dispatched semi-pro side Simcoe County Rovers of League1 Ontario 5-0 to advance to the quarterfinal.

Saint-Laurent gave its fans much to celebrate by holding TFC off the scoresheet in the first half. Toronto dominated with 66 per cent of possession, but only led the shot attempts 10-9.

Centre back Nathan Goulet prevented Toronto from taking an early lead with a goal-line clearance in the seventh minute. Osorio shot towards an open net after Maniatis dived to make a save, only for Goulet to deny it.

Maniatis stopped Kerr on a partial break in the 13th minute as the crowd erupted.

Saint-Laurent then started putting the pressure on. Oussama Boughanmi sent a free kick from a dangerous area over the bar in the 23rd minute.

Loïc Kwemi had another chance from the edge of the box in the 41st, but also sailed it over the net.

After Longstaff opened the scoring, Kwemi pressured with an attempt that appeared to hit a defender’s hand but went uncalled. Toronto pounced on the counterattack and Kerr scored with a shot off the post.

Toronto increased its lead when Bernardeschi’s free kick fooled Maniatis.

Saint-Laurent captain Wesley Wandje had a golden opportunity for Saint-Laurent in the 81st minute but couldn’t beat Gavran.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2024.

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