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Semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent won Toronto FC’s respect in the first leg of their Canadian Championship quarterfinal despite the 3-0 score in the MLS club’s favour.

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And Toronto coach John Herdman expects the Ligue1 Quebec champion to “play with no fear” Tuesday in the return game at BMO Field.

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“They’ve experienced it once before. They know we’re only human and they’ve seen that in the first leg,” said Herdman. “So I imagine they’ll come in with some confidence and, I guess, (with) that pressure off.

“They’ll genuinely believe if they score one, they can score two. That’s the dream that I know I would be trying to create with my players. I expect them to come in excited, full of confidence and with no real weight of expectations which maybe they had in that first game.”

The challenges have come on and off the field, with plenty of media attention on Saint-Laurent during a cup run that started May 2 with an upset penalty shootout win over the CPL’s Halifax Wanderers.

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“It’s been a lot and very fast, from playing Halifax to playing Toronto and playing Toronto a second time, it’s been 2 1/2 weeks. It feels like a year,” said Saint-Laurent coach Nick Razzaghi.

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But he says his team’s focus is simple.

“Right now we’re just trying to win (Tuesday’s) game.”

Also Tuesday in cup play, the Vancouver Whitecaps take a 2-1 lead into their rematch with Cavalry FC at B.C. Place Stadium.

On Wednesday, it’s Forge FC at CF Montreal (first leg was 1-1) and Atletico Ottawa at Pacific FC (0-0) in the other two quarterfinals.

The Toronto-Saint-Laurent winner will play either Montreal or Forge in the two-legged semifinal.

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Saint-Laurent can perhaps feel hard done by the opening leg, which was scoreless for the first 50 minutes.

Matty Longstaff’s opening goal came through a mass of bodies, with goalkeeper Kosta Maniatis screened. The second, by Deandre Kerr, came on a counterattack after Saint-Laurent was denied a penalty for an Aime Mabika handball in the Toronto penalty box. The third was a Federico Bernardeschi free kick that caught Maniatis out of position organizing his team’s defensive wall.

“I thought it was a proper cup tie,” said Herdman. “It was a nervy one for us, that’s for sure.”

He expects Saint-Laurent, whose roster includes players with international futsal experience, to shine on the big pitch at BMO Field.

“It’s going to be a real good opportunity for some of these players to put their hand up for the Canadian Premier League and maybe even to be knocking on MLS Next Pro knocking on MLS doors here.”

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Toronto blanked League 1 Ontario’s Simcoe County Rovers 5-0 in the preliminary round.

Toronto’s injured list includes captain Jonathan Osorio, Kevin Long, Richie Laryea, Shane O’Neill and Brandon Servania. Herdman hopes to have Osorio and Long back on the weekend against FC Cincinnati.

Laryea, a designated player who has not seen action since hamstring surgery following the season opener, could also dress Saturday, Herdman revealed.

“He is ahead of schedule,” said Herdman, adding the May 29 game at Philadelphia might be a more realistic return for the dangerous fullback/wingback.

But with Bernardeschi suspended for Saturday’s league game against FC Cincinnati for yellow card accumulation, the Italian star could play a bigger role Tuesday.

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And why not? The former Juventus man has seven goals in his last four outings including a hat trick in Saturday’s 5-1 win over CF Montreal. He was named the top player of Matchday 15 for the performance.

Bernardeschi came off the bench to score against Saint-Laurent in the first leg.

Fellow Italian Lorenzo Insigne could also see action after making his first start on the weekend following two cameos off the bench in the wake of an eight-game injury absence.

The cup date represents TFC’s ninth game in 31 days, with league outings against Cincinnati and Philadelphia still to come in what Herdman calls “May madness.”

Herdman gave the team the day off Sunday because of the crowded schedule, and perhaps as a reward for the lopsided weekend win.

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Herdman also took the day off, spending it with his wife and daughter who were in town from the family’s B.C. home.

It was a busman’s holiday, however, as they watched Herdman’s beloved Newcastle United close out its English Premier League season with a 4-2 win at Brentford and son Jay Herdman in action for Whitecaps FC in a 3-2 loss at the Colorado Rapids 2 in MLS Next Pro play.

Saint-Laurent has gone 1-1-0 in league play since the opening leg of the quarterfinal, losing 3-0 to Ottawa South United before blanking AS Laval 7-0 on Friday.

The Canadian Championship winner hoists the Voyageurs Cup and qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the elite men’s club competition in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

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The Whitecaps have won the Canadian cup the last two years.

Toronto FC's Jordan Perruzza and New England Revolution's Latif Blessing battle for the ball.
Toronto FC’s Jordan Perruzza (77) and New England Revolution’s Latif Blessing (19) compete during the second half of an MLS soccer match, in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, June 24, 2023. Photo by Michael Dwyer /THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP


Toronto FC, continuing to winnow its roster, has waived forward Jordan Perruzza.

The move comes 13 days after the MLS team parted ways with fellow Canadian striker Au Akinola via a mutual termination of his contract. Toronto also waived veteran forward Adama Diomande in late February.

According to the MLS Players Association, Perruzza was making $139,000 US this season.

The 23-year-old Perruzza joined the Toronto academy in January 2013 and signed a homegrown contract with the first team in August 2020.

Toronto sent the Canadian youth international out on loan last August to Halifax Wanderers FC of the Canadian Premier League. He had two goals and an assist in 10 regular-season games, also making a playoff appearance.

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Perruzza had yet to make an appearance for Toronto this season, his fourth with his hometown club.

He made a combined 30 first-team appearances across all competitions with two goals. He made his first team debut against Mexico’s Club Leon in April 2021 and scored his first TFC goal against Atlanta United in October 2021.

Perruzza scored 19 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions with Toronto FC II. He was nominated for USL League One Young Player of the Year after scoring a club-leading 15 goals in 2019.

A native of Woodbridge, Perruzza — who is fluent in Italian — spent time in Italy with Empoli’s youth setup.

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