The Toronto FC season is at stake in the Canadian Championship semifinals against Pacific FC

Toronto FC’s season is in full swing on Wednesday with a visit by Pacific FC to the Canadian semifinals.

No matter what happens at BMO Field, Pacific (13-8-6) will still be at the top of the Canadian Premier League, albeit with a point over Forge FC and Cavalry FC, with one game left before the playoffs. A Toronto loss and TFC (6-17-10) will have nothing to save from a failed season that ranks as its worst in nearly a decade.

Even if it wins, Toronto will have to beat CF Montréal in the final to get something out of the tournament. And chances are, a shiny trophy will only be a footnote to a gloomy campaign.

But a championship is a championship. And the Voyageurs Cup comes with the option of a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the flagship competition in the region.

Toronto ends the MLS season on Saturday against DC United, whose 7-1 sailing on July 3 represents the bottom of TFC’s season.

There have been more downs than ups since. The current version of Toronto is somewhere in the middle – the club is without a win in its last five games (0-2-3), but has taken points from three playoff challengers – Montreal, Philadelphia and Atlanta – in recent ties.

Coach Javier Perez says he likes what he sees on his team these days.

“I think now we would be a good place to start the season,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Unfortunately, it’s the end of the season. But I think we’re in the best moment of the season, which is bad news. It’s sad because we wish we were so good a few months ago. But it’s good news, because now is a critical moment and I think we have an opportunity ahead of us which is the Canadian Championship. ”

Perez, who was promoted to head coach after the DC United debacle led to the firing of Chris Armas, adds that the team has since beaten league leaders New England and Nashville, who are currently third in the East, and are just like No. 2 Philadelphia , No. 4 New York City FC and No. 5 Orlando.

“I think we showed that we have the potential to be where we should be, which is the playoffs. But it’s gone and now we have another competition, which is the Canadian Championship. And we has a great opportunity ahead of us to touch silverware. “

Still, Toronto ranks 13th in the 14-team Eastern Conference – and 26th in the 27-team league. The club has gone 5-9-8 in league games under Perez, whose future with the club has not yet been announced.

While Pacific tops the CPL, it has lost four of its last six in league games. However, all four defeats were with one goal.

Coach Pah-Modou Kah looks at the bigger picture and says ups and downs are normal in a season of 28 games.

“The table and how we have played does not lie,” he said. “We have been consistent since the start of the season between first and third place. And we are still in first place, so that shows how we have been.”

Montreal reached the final of the Canadian Championship by sending CPL champion Forge FC in an 11-round penalty shootout, which was ultimately decided by the goalkeepers who went up to the penalty spot with Sebastian Breza stopping Forge opponent Triston Henry and then scored himself to give Montreal an 8. -7 wins.

Pacific is aware of what’s at stake, even if Kah looks at the steak, not the acid.

“For me it’s the biggest match externally, but for the boys it’s just another 90-minute match. And that’s where our focus is: we’re here to play the game, we’m not here to play the apartment. The occasion is for everyone else, “said Kah.” We just focus on what we have to do. “

Kah was born in Gambia and moved to Norway as a child. He played for clubs in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before joining MLS in 2013 to first join Portland and then, in 2015, Vancouver.

The Norwegian national team player won the Canadian Championship with the Whitecaps in 2015, and designed and purchased championship rings for all players and staff to mark the club’s first Canadian title.

Kah was hard to miss in the wake of the 2-0 win over Montreal at BC Place Stadium, which sealed the title 4-2 overall. He memorably showed some dance moves on a hoverboard on the court.

Kah retired in February 2017, moving in as a coach with the Whitecaps and then FC Cincinnati before joining the Pacific ahead of the 2020 CPL season.

Toronto got a goodbye to the quarterfinals, where it beat York United FC 4-0.

Pacific went on to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 in the opening round – Vancouver fired coach Marc Dos Santos the next day – and Cavalry FC 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

Due to the pandemic, the Canadian Championship in 2020 was reduced to a one-time final between Toronto and Forge that has not yet been played or even planned. Toronto qualified by virtue of its game against Montreal and Vancouver during the pandemic-hit 2020 MLS season. Forge nodded after winning the Island Games, CPL’s 2020 truncated season.

Montreal won the previous Canadian championship and defeated Toronto in a penalty shootout after the two-legged 2019 final was 1-1.

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