Toronto FC’s Italian era begins with actual Saturday lorenzo insigne And Federico Bernardeschi, projected to make his MLS debut, joins compatriot Domenico Cristo, who already has three. TFC Appearances under his belt, as struggling Toronto host expansion Charlotte FC.
“Both are excited[to play],” said head coach Bob Bradley. “And everyone is also excited to have them go. With (only) a few days of training, we have to figure out what it means in terms of minutes, things like that, but they are both ready to go.”
Added Bob’s son, Captain Michael Bradley: “It’s been great in every way. They’ve come in and just established how excited they are to be here, what a nice people they are, first and foremost. What a great professional they are. How serious are they and how motivated they are to be here and of course, when training starts you can see the quality”
For both Bradley, Bernardeschi and Insigne are two more important pieces to the puzzle.
In addition to Canadian midfielder Marc-Anthony Kaye via trade from Colorado earlier this month, Bob Bradley likely has his opening midfield and attack set up.
Michael Bradley anchors a three-man midfield that includes Kaye and fellow Canadian Jonathan Osorio. Insigne and Bernardeschi were expected to patrol the left and right flanks respectively, leading the attack from Spanish forward Jesus Jiménez.
The defense needs help, as it is ranked 26th in the league with an average of 1.86 goals scored. Toronto added experience on Friday in the form of Canada international defender Donil Henry, waived by Los Angeles FC earlier this month.
The 29-year-old from Brampton, Ont., who signed for the rest of the season, came through TFC Academy and became the first home player to sign with the first team in 2010 as a 17-year-old. In five seasons with Toronto, Henry made a combined 93 appearances.
His career thereafter took him to Apollon Limassol (Cyprus), West Ham and Blackburn (England), AC Horsens (Denmark), Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS), Ottawa Fury (USL) and Suwon Samsung Bluewings (South Korea).
“Donil has great experience in the league and can provide us with some backline depth,” Bob Bradley said in a statement on Friday.
Henry has won 44 caps for Canada.
Italians bring experience, skill and style. Bernardeschi, Criscito and Insigne have combined for over 1,200 appearances in Europe and some 120 Italian caps.
“There’s a reason those guys have such a high profile,” said Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono. “You look at it in terms of quality as soon as they step on the field.”
It’s hard to miss the star power of the trio.
“With the boys, there are discussions going on around the training facility as well,” Bono said with a smile. “Everyone wants some extra tickets. Everyone’s family wants to get a piece of the action (Saturday). ,
This is the first meeting between Toronto and Charlotte. And for Toronto, the game comes three days before the Canadian Championship final against the Whitecaps in Vancouver.
Somehow it seems fitting that Toronto will face an Italian coach with both Charlotte (interim coach Christian Latanzio) and Vancouver (Vanni Sartini).
“Listen, Toronto has always been a tough team to play for. There is a real football enthusiasm and culture behind the club,” said Lattanzio. Signing will happen.
“And so Insigne, Bernardeschi, Crissito were added to the squad as well as the names they already have with Kaye, along with Bradley, everyone else, Osorio, plus some good young players and veterans. Players behind, I think this is one of the best squads in MLS. So it’s going to be a tough match.”
Toronto (5-12-4) enters the 14-team Eastern Conference weekend game in 13th place, five places and seven points below Charlotte. With 13 games remaining in the regular season, TFC has five teams and nine points from the season ahead.
Charlotte (8-11-2) sits one point out of the playoffs thanks in large part to a healthy home record (7-3-0). It struggled on the road at 1-8-2, with its only win coming in Houston on July 3.
Charlotte has scored two or more goals in eight of 11 road games, compared to just once in their 10 home games
The team has gone through a coach, splitting with the team at 5–8–1 on 31 May with head coach Miguel ngel Ramírez. Lattangio is set to end the season as interim head coach.
Prevailing in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1 before 52,673 at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte is coming off a friendly win over England’s Chelsea.
Its last league outing was a 3–2 loss at Inter Miami on Saturday, which saw Charlotte lead 2–0 on a pair of goals by former Whitecap Yordi Reyna, only 3–2 on a 93rd-minute winner by Emerson Rodriguez. lost to This broke the winning streak of two matches.
Charlotte is led by striker Karol widersch and midfielder Kamil Jowiak, both Polish internationals. Its other named player is Ecuadorian international midfielder Jordi Alsívar.
Toronto is coming off consecutive road defeats to Montreal (1–0) and Chicago (2–0) in league play. It is winless in five (0-4-1) and just two wins in its last 14 outings (2-10-2). It has not posted a shutout in league play since a 0–0 draw in Colorado on September 25, 2021, with goals scored in 29 straight matches.
Saturday’s loss in Montreal marked the seventh time in 12 matches that TFC had previously failed to score after scoring 13 consecutive matches.
Jaden Nelson is available after serving a one-game suspension for accumulating a yellow card against Montreal. But Toronto will miss goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, midfielder Noble Okello and centre-back Chris Mavinga, who are all injured.
Osorio, who missed the Montreal game, has cleared the concussion protocol and is available.
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