Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi made the best possible start to life in MLS as they helped Toronto FC crush Charlotte FC 4-0 on Saturday.
Anticipation has been building ever since TFC announced the deal for Insigne earlier this year, later adding Italy teammate Bernardeschi to what is now a star-studded forward line.
And the BMO Field faithful finally got to see their new icons in action as CLTFC came to town on Saturday.
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It couldn’t have gone much better for Toronto, who raced into a 1-0 lead inside four minutes – though it was more by luck than skill as Guzman Corujo’s clearance hit Jonathan Osorio and looped into the back of the net.
There was no fortune involved in the next three goals, though, as Michael Bradley headed home a Bernardeschi corner in the 10th minute, before the Italian opened his TFC account in style just after the half-hour mark, finishing low from 20 yards out.
Insigne got in on the act just before half-time, providing a beautiful backheel assist to help Bradley score his second of the night, giving Toronto their first-ever 4-0 half-time lead.
Insigne and Bernardeschi were both withdrawn at half-time with Toronto’s Canadian Championship final against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday in mind.
That allowed Charlotte a bit of breathing space after the break, creating more chances and dominating possession.
But Christian Lattanzio’s men never quite did enough to truly scare Toronto, who held on to finally keep their first clean sheet of the 2022 MLS season.
Here are the full player ratings from a stunning performance at BMO Field:
GK: Alex Bono – 7/10 – Was equal to everything thrown at him. Pure relief to finally get a clean sheet.
RB: Kosi Thompson – 8/10 – Solid defensively and got forward really well.
CB: Shane O’Neill – 6/10 – Wasn’t overly worked but did what he needed to.
CB: Lukas MacNaughton – 7/10 – Clean on the ball and got the job done defensively.
LB: Domenico Criscito – 8/10 – Wasn’t outdone by his compatriots. Nothing got past Criscito, who showed his quality with ball after dangerous ball into Charlotte’s right channel.
CM: Michael Bradley – 9/10 – Rolled back the years with two goals in what was a dynamo, energetic performance. Given a new lease of life by his new teammates.
CM: Mark-Anthony Kaye – 7/10 – Provided the assist for Bernardeschi’s goal and played a part in Bradley’s second.
CM: Jonathan Osorio – 8/10 – Was fortunate with his goal but earned that luck afterward with an all-action midfield performance.
RW: Federico Bernardeschi – 9/10 – The first player to score and assist in the first half of his MLS debut since 2009. Sensational.
ST: Jesus Jimenez – 6/10 – Had a goal disallowed for offside. Was otherwise reduced to a role as an extra as the main event happened around him.
LW: Lorenzo Insigne – 9/10 – Along with Bernardeschi, completely raised the level of Toronto. One assist doesn’t even come close to summing up just how good Insigne looked. Stupefacente.
SUB: Jayden Nelson (46′, for Bernardeschi) – 7/10 – Picked up where Bernardeschi left off, proving a threat on the break with his pace.
SUB: Deandre Kerr (46′, for Insigne) – 5/10 – Showed a little promise but never truly got going.
SUB: Doneil Henry (46′, for O’Neill) – 7/10 – Looked sharp. Clean on the ball and tenacious without it.
SUB: Ayo Akinola (76′, for Jimenez) – 5/10 – Barely got involved after coming on.
SUB: Luca Petrasso (76′, for Criscito) – 5/10 – As above.
GK: Kristijan Kahlina – 3/10 – Failed to make a save, though he couldn’t be blamed too much individually.
RB: Anton Walkes – 3/10 – Had a really tough time against Insigne, getting dragged everywhere and anywhere. Subbed at half-time.
CB: Guzman Corujo – 4/10 – Erratic and all over the place with his positioning.
CB: Christian Fuchs – 2/10 – Never got to grips with the Toronto attack then got sent off for a last-man foul on Nelson in the second half.
LB: Joseph Mora – 3/10 – Struggled just as much as Walkes on the opposite flank.
CM: Brandt Bronico – 5/10 – Worked hard as usual but was overrun.
CM: Quinn McNeill – 4/10 – A few nice passes but never adjusted to the pace of the match.
RW: Andre Shinyashiki – 4/10 – Battled hard but totally swallowed up by the TFC defense. Subbed out at the break.
CAM: Kamil Jozwiak – 5/10 – A few flashes of quality before coming off with an ankle injury.
LW: Yordy Reyna – 7/10 – Was the silver lining for Charlotte, creating a few openings and testing Toronto with his pace and skill.
ST: Karol Swiderski – 4/10 – Completely snuffed out by the TFC defense.
SUB: Jaylin Lindsey (46′, for Walkes) – 6/10 – Added more of an outlet down the right for Charlotte.
SUB: McKinze Gaines (46′, for Shinyashiki) – 6/10 – Used his pace to give TFC’s backline more of a test but lacked quality. Missed his mark with all six attempted crosses.
SUB: Kerwin Vargas (62′, for Reyna) – 6/10 – A few dangerous moments.
SUB: Sergio Ruiz (70′, for Jozwiak) – 5/10 – Didn’t get going.
SUB: Jan Sobociski (76′, for McNeill) – 6/10 – Did okay in his short time on the field.