Michael Bradley impresses as Insigne and Bernardeschi make Toronto FC debuts

By Jerry Mancini at BMO Field.

Toronto FC cruised to a 4-0 win over Charlotte FC in front of a sell-out crowd of 29,067 at BMO Field.

In doing so, they ended a five-game losing streak. Wins have been rare for TFC in recent weeks as they have only won two in their last fourteen outings before this game, so getting the three points was a must for the home side. As for Charlotte, their struggles continue on the road as they are now 1-9-2 (WLD) as a visitor.

Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi made their highly anticipated TFC debuts and made an immediate impact at their new club. Both players combined for one goal and two assists in 45 minutes as they were energetic, dynamic and creative. Bernardeschi scored an incredible strike from outside the box in the 31st minute that saw the stadium erupt.

“The fans are fantastic,” Bernardeschi said of the atmosphere at BMO Field. “Today for me and the team is a special day.

“We started the first game all together and we played good football. I’m so happy with this game, my first goal and my first assist in MLS.

Bernardeschi has joined Alejandro Pozuelo as the second player in club history to score a goal and register an assist on his Major League Soccer debut.

He also became the first player to register a goal and an assist before halftime in his first MLS appearance since Fredy Montero for Seattle Sounders in 2009.

Insigne took on the task in added time of the first half, where he delivered a cheeky pass to Michael Bradley who broke through the Charlotte defense to score Toronto’s fourth goal of the night.

TFC manager Bob Bradley managed his new signings’ minutes as they were substituted early in the second half. With a large lead and limited training, managing their workload was key to avoiding any future setbacks.

It had been a long time since the atmosphere had been so electrifying at BMO Field. The arrivals of Insigne and Bernardeschi breathed new life into the club and the fans.

Although fans came to see Insigne and Bernardeshi make their debuts, Michael Bradley was man of the match for TFC as he dominated the midfield battle.

The midfielder made an impact at both ends of the pitch by throwing timely challenges, showing great awareness in the backend and contributing in attack.

“Michael has been really good this year,” added his father and manager Bob Bradley.

“Now when you put Michael in the middle of more good players, he’s not a player who does things on his own.

“He’s a player who knows how to play with people. He’s a player who knows how to get good players into the game in the right way.

Michael Bradley was a threat in every way on the pitch. The TFC captain finished the game with two goals, four clearances, three successful dribbles and one blocked shot.

However, it was his second goal of the night that was brilliant as he sliced ​​through the Charlotte defense and delivered a fine finish off a cheeky pass from Insigne. All in all, an inspiring performance from the midfield.

Going into this match, TFC remained the only club in MLS without a clean sheet this season, but that came to a halt as they kept their opponent scoreless for the first time in 29 matches.

The last time Toronto posted a league shutout was on September 25, 2021, at Colorado in a 0-0 draw.

“I’m relieved,” replied Bob Bradley when asked if his club had finally gotten a clean sheet. “I know the days when we defended pretty well and left something at the end.

“I also know that tonight, there are a few moments in the second half, towards the end of the first half, we would be negligent and you could be punished.

“It never goes away. I can see the little things in the game that might not matter one day but will matter the next and the day after. So you keep trying to improve.

Charlotte was limited to five shots on target and had 48.9% possession. They had very few chances to score as Alex Bono made a tough save throughout the game.

Defensive play has come to the fore for Toronto after being a concern in recent weeks, but their new attack will steal headlines for their first-half display, with Michael Bradley tying it all together in midfield.


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