Deandre Kerr had four goals as eight-time champion Toronto FC scored early and often in thumping semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 8-1 Tuesday for a 11-1 aggregate win and a berth in the Canadian Championship semifinals.

The eight goals, one of which was a Saint-Laurent own goal, set a tournament record, erasing the mark set by Atletico Ottawa in a 7-0 drubbing of Valour FC on May 1 in preliminary-round play. It was also a Toronto club record.

Despite the lopsided score, the Ligue1 Quebec champion played some attractive football at times against well-heeled MLS opposition, albeit an essentially reserve side Tuesday, and hit the woodwork twice. But Toronto converted its chances and led 3-0 after 43 minutes with Kerr accounting for all three goals.

Things went from bad to worse in the 45th minute when Saint-Laurent's veteran Tunisian defender Oussama Boughanmi was shown a straight red card when he caught Alonso Coello with a boot to the face. It was unintentional but reckless.

Cassius Mailula, Derrick Etienne Jr. and Prince Owusu also scored for Toronto, which marked its second hat trick in as many games. Italian Federico Bernardeschi had three in Saturday's 5-1 league win over CF Montreal.

Kerr, who backs up Owusu in MLS play, now has five goals in Canadian Championship play this year. The 21-year-old from Toronto has eight goals in 58 career MLS games.

Toronto's second-half goals came on a deflected shot by Mailula in the 50th minute, from the penalty spot by Etienne in the 56th, an own goal by Nathan Goulet in the 62nd, Kerr's fourth in the 72nd and Owusu in the 80th.

Rickson Aristilde pulled one back for Saint-Laurent in the 89th minute.

Saint Laurent had also won kudos for its play in the 3-0 first-leg loss, holding Toronto scoreless for 50 minutes on May 8 at the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

But Toronto wasted little time putting the minnow to the sword Tuesday with goals by Kerr in the 12th and 14th minutes before a crowd of 9,148 on a warm evening at BMO Field. While the hole got deeper for the Quebec side, it did not fold and asked questions of a makeshift Toronto backline and goalkeeper Luka Gavran.

Saint-Laurent outshot Toronto 11-5 (4-4 in shots on target) in the first half. But its defence was found wanting.

Toronto will find out Wednesday who it faces in the semifinal with Canada Soccer holding a draw to determine the semifinal matchups and sites for the two-legged series.

The defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps, holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg, hosted Cavalry FC in Tuesday's later quarterfinal match.

On Wednesday, Atletico Ottawa visits Pacific FC after a scoreless first leg and CF Montreal hosts CPL champion Forge FC with the aggregate score tied at 1-1.

Toronto coach John Herdman made nine changes to his starting lineup from the weekend with only Lorenzo Insigne and Coello retaining their spot. Tuesday's lineup featured seven of the same starters from the first leg.

Insigne, who captained the side, made his first start on the weekend following two cameos off the bench in the wake of an eight-game injury absence. He played a part in Toronto's first two goals before exiting after 33 minutes.

The cup date was TFC's ninth game in 31 days, with league outings against Cincinnati and Philadelphia still to come in what Herdman calls "May madness."

Saint-Laurent retained nine of the 11 starters from the first leg.

Loic Kwemi, a Canadian futsal international, tested Gavran in the 10th minute with a hard shot from distance that the Toronto 'keeper was able to parry.

But Toronto went ahead in the 12th minute when Jahkeele Marshal-Rutty beat his marker and sent in a cross that Kerr acrobatically volleyed into goal. The two combined again two minutes later with Kerr ghosting between defenders to poke home a Marshall-Rutty cross.

Insigne triggered both plays with balls down the left flank that sent the 19-year-old Marshall-Rutty on his way.

Saint-Laurent kept coming, however, and Kwemi hit the goalpost in the 21st minute after a turnover by 17-year-old midfielder Andrei Dumitru.

Marshall-Rutty came off at halftime as Herdman dug deeper into his roster. Bernardeschi, who is suspended for Saturday's game, entered in the 63rd minute.

Substitute Mamadou Kane hit the Toronto woodwork soon after.

Toronto blanked League1 Ontario's Simcoe County Rovers 5-0 in the single-game preliminary round while Saint-Laurent upset the CPL's Halifax Wanderers in a penalty shootout in the cup preliminary round.

Toronto's injured list included 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 visiting FC Cincinnati.

The MLS side signed Toronto FC II defenders Antony Curic and Nathaniel Edwards and Dumitru to MLS short-term agreements for the cup game.

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.

The Canadian Championship is sponsored by Telus.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.