By Jerry Mancini at BMO Field.
Toronto FC cruised to a 4-0 victory versus Charlotte FC in front of a sold-out crowd of 29,067 at BMO Field.
In doing so, they ended a five-game winless skid. Wins have been rare for TFC in recent weeks as they had just two victories in their last fourteen outings entering this match, so getting the three points was a must for the home side. As for Charlotte, their struggles continue on the road as they’re now 1-9-2 (W-L-D) as the visitor.
Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi made their much-anticipated debuts for TFC and made an immediate impact for their new club. The two 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 which saw the stadium erupt.
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) July 24, 2022
“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 very happy for this game, my first goal and first assist in MLS.”
Bernardeschi 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 record a goal and an assist before halftime in his first MLS appearance since Fredy Montero for Seattle Sounders in 2009.
Insigne stepped up to the task in injury time of the first half, where he made a cheeky pass to Michael Bradley who burst through the Charlotte defence to score Toronto’s fourth goal of the evening.
TFC manager, Bob Bradley, managed the minutes of his new signings as they were subbed out at the start of the second half. With a big lead and having had limited training, managing their workload was key to avoiding any future setbacks.
It has been a long time since the atmosphere was this electrifying at BMO Field. The additions of Insigne and Bernardeschi have brought new life to the club and to the fans.
Although fans came to see Insigne and Bernardeshi make their debut, Michael Bradley was the Man of the Match for TFC as he dominated the midfield battle.
The midfielder made an impact at both ends of the pitch as he made timely challenges, showed great awareness in the backend and contributed to the attack.
“Michael’s been really good this year,” his father and manager Bob Bradley added.
“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 bring good players into the game in the right way.”
Michael Bradley was a menace in all aspects on the pitch. The TFC captain finished the match with two goals, four clearances, three successful dribbles and one blocked shot.
However, it was his second goal of the evening that was brilliant as he cut through the Charlotte defence and delivered a nice finish off a cheeky pass from Insigne. Overall, an inspiring performance from the midfielder.
Great goal from Michael Bradley!
Cheeky pass from Lorenzo Insigne to earn his first assist with Toronto FC.
Beautiful quick passes to create the goal. 🔥🔥#TFCLive
— Jerry Mancini (@jmancini8) July 24, 2022
Entering this match, TFC remained the only club in the MLS without a clean sheet this season yet that came to a halt as they kept their opposition goalless for the first time in 29 matches.
The last time Toronto posted a shutout in league play was back on Sept 25, 2021, at Colorado in a 0-0 draw.
“I am relieved,” Bob Bradley responded when asked about his club finally getting a clean sheet. “I know the days that we defended pretty well and left something at the end.
“I also know that tonight there’s a few moments in the second half, late in the first half, we would get careless and you could be punished.
“That never goes away. I can see the little things in the game that maybe one day don’t matter but will matter the next day and the next day. So, you just keep trying to improve.”
Charlotte was limited to five shots on target and had 48.9% possession. They had very few scoring chances as Alex Bono made one difficult save throughout the course of the match.
The defensive game came to the fore for Toronto having been an area of concern in recent weeks, but their new-look attack will steal the headlines for their first-half display, with Michael Bradley tying it all together in midfield.