What a difference returning the whole team makes like FCToronto rolled over Charlotte F.C. in Lorenzo Insigne and by Federico Bernardeschi the first team makes its debut on Saturday night. The Italian Designated Players were also quick to take effect. Bernardeschi assisted his first Toronto goal just 10 minutes into the game with Michael Bradley score a header from a corner. Bob Bradley will appreciate the effort as Toronto won in front of their home fans 4-0, as their stars weren’t needed for more than half the game.
As Charlotte played on a short rest after taking chelsea on penalties in a midweek friendly, they weren’t ready for Toronto’s attack, conceding just four minutes due to a defensive breakdown. The TFC took eight shots by putting four on target and the four turned into goals. Bob Bradley couldn’t have had a better night as Michael Bradley scored twice, Mark Anthony-Kaye assisted twice, Insigne assisted one and Bernardeschi scored and assisted one.
Bernardeschi’s 31st-minute goal showed Major League Soccer will have to respect his left foot, but playing him closer will only give Insigne and Jesus Jimenez more room to play, so teams will have to choose their poison.
There was even the added bonus of Toronto keeping a clean sheet which was their first since last September, a 29 game streak. It goes to show that while the back line needs improvement, the best defense is a good offense, something Bradley knows all too well from his days in charge of FC Los Angeles. If this teardown by Toronto sounded familiar, it’s because there’s a lot in common between this setup and the one Bradley used on the west coast with Diego Rossi and carlos vela.
The fact that Charlotte played into the hands of Toronto allowing Insigne and Bernardeschi to be taken out at the half is an added bonus as it keeps them fresh for the Canadian Championship on July 26 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. With a win in this game, Toronto can book their spot in the Concacaf Champions League no matter what happens in the league. But their ambitions are higher than that.
Sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference, Bob Bradley’s men are six points from a playoff spot, but they have five teams to pass to get there. With Insigne and Bernardeschi in tow, Toronto also have more talent available than any of the teams they are looking to pass. They also have the added bonus of an open Designated Player position which will be filled before the transfer window closes.
Adding Dominico Criscito into the mix, Toronto’s Italian contingent created nine chances in the game without Jimenez getting too involved. When everyone is wild it will be quite an attack, but the hope will always be that the defense can do enough to back them up. Adding Anthony-Kaye and Doneil Henry will help, but there’s definitely work to be done. If Saturday’s win over Charlotte was the appetizer of what this team can do, fans should be excited for the main course.
The Toronto faithful have been waiting for this day and it turned out better than expected but the team will have to keep up the pace to qualify for the playoffs. After the Canadian Championship, the TFC will face New England, Nashville and Portland, showing what they have to offer quite quickly. Anthony-Kaye left the game injured, which will be the only worry at the moment, but it seemed like a precaution as he was dealing with cramps because the game was already won.