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Toronto FC defeats Inter Miami 2-0 on chilly night for first win of MLS season

TORONTO — Second-half goals by Canadians Jonathan Osorio and Mark-Anthony Kaye helped Toronto FC find the win column for the first time this Major League Soccer season with a 2-0 victory over Inter Miami on a frigid Saturday night.

The temperature at kickoff at BMO Field was an unwelcome -4 Celsius, feeling like -13 C at the lakefront stadium. In comparison, it was 28 C (feeling like 30 C) at Inter Miami’s Fort Lauderdale home.

The chilly conditions did not deter Toronto centre backs Matt Hedges and Sigurd Rosted from wearing short-sleeved jerseys.

Toronto came into the contest winless in its last nine league games (0-6-3) dating back to Aug. 27 (2-0 at Charlotte FC). Its last home win was Aug. 13 (3-1 over Portland).

Saturday’s game saw father-and-son combinations on both teams.

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Harvey Neville, the 20-year-old son of Miami coach Phil Neville, lined up at right fullback in his first MLS start. Captain Michael Bradley, the 35-year-old son of Toronto coach Bob Bradley, made his 295th appearance for TFC in all competitions.

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Toronto (1-1-2) went ahead in the 48th minute on a pretty play finished by Osorio. Mark-Anthony Kaye found Federico Bernardeschi on the edge of the penalty box and the Italian waited for fullback Richie Laryea to fly past him before feeding him the ball. Laryea raked a low cross across goal and Osorio contorted his body to fight off a defender and flick the ball in for his 59th career goal for TFC.

Miami (2-2-0) had conceded just once in its first three games — an own goal in last week’s 1-0 loss at New York City FC.

Kaye added to the lead in the 69th minute, redirecting a Bernardeschi free kick for his second of the season. The ball appeared to bounce in off his shoulder as he tried for a header in traffic.

Injuries to key personnel have denied Bob Bradley a chance to field his first-choice team. Toronto had led in its previous three outings but was unable to hold out for the win.

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Italian star winger Lorenzo Insigne (groin) and Norwegian forward Adama Diomande (hamstring) remained sidelined for Toronto. Defender Shane O’Neill, who has had such issues before, was out with headaches.

Things get worse next week with Toronto losing Laryea, Osorio, Kaye and forward Ayo Akinola to Canada for CONCACAF Nations League matches, meaning further roster holes for an away game at San Jose. Backup goalkeeper Tomas Romero is leaving to join El Salvador.

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Akinola came in off the bench on the 61st minute after sitting out last week’s 1-1 tie with visiting Columbus, having tweaked his hamstring in the 1-1 draw in Atlanta the previous week. TFC lost its season opener 3-2 at D.C. United.

The injury list has heaped responsibility on Bernardeschi, who had accounted for two of Toronto’s four goals before Saturday. The Italian had moments of real class Saturday, driving the Toronto attack.

Bradley went with the same starting 11 he used against Columbus.

Miami got some unwelcome injury news of its own this week with Brazilian defensive midfielder Gregore, the team captain, expected to miss six months after undergoing surgery on a foot injured in a challenge by NYCFC’s Matias Pellegrini.

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U.S. international defender DeAndre Yedlin did not make the trip from Florida, staying home for the birth of his child.

Miami arrived at BMO Field having won five straight over Toronto since losing the first meeting in 2020. The five TFC losses equal Toronto’s longest losing streak against an MLS opponent (Seattle, 2010-13).

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Toronto threatened early with a Bernardeschi cross causing havoc into the Miami box in the second minute. An ensuing corner also saw the Miami defence at sixes and sevens.

At the other end, Argentine forward Nicolas Stefanelli produced a diving save from Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the ninth minute. Laryea forced a stop from Drake Callender in the 31st after slicing into the Miami penalty box.

Callender was up to the challenge again in the 42nd minute, stopping Bernardeschi from a tight angle after the Italian was put through by Osorio.

It’s been an impressive start for Miami, which opened with a pair of 2-0 home wins over CF Montreal and Philadelphia before losing at NYCFC.

Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez, who served as Miami captain Saturday, came into the contest with 98 goals in 135 regular-season games, looking to become the fastest player in MLS history to reach the 100-goal milestone. Bradley Wright-Phillips currently holds the record, doing it in 159 games.

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Toronto’s Hedges made his 300th career MLS regular-season start, with 296 of those coming in FC Dallas colours.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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