Head coach Bob Bradley made three changes to Toronto’s starting XI after their 1-0 defeat against CF Montréal last week. Insigne, Bernardeschi and Jonathan Osorio came into the lineup, while Deandre Kerr, Ayo Akinola and Luca Petrasso were moved to the bench.
The wait is over.— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 23, 2022
Tonight's Starting XI vs. @CharlotteFC#TORvCLT | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/gGhHGQNaND
TFC began the match with intense pressure, giving Charlotte little room to move the ball. The hosts had their first chance in the second minute. Solid combination play from Insigne and Domenico Criscito led to a corner. On the ensuing set piece, Insigne’s cross to the back post found Osorio, whose shot went over the crossbar.
The Reds opened the scoring in the fourth minute through Osorio. The build-up included passes from Mark-Anthony Kaye and Jesus Jiménez, Osorio’s pressure resulted in a failed clearance from Guzmán Corujo and the ball went off the Canadian and in. Charlotte ‘keeper Kristijan Kahlina was rooted to the spot as he watched the ball go over him and into the net.
::checks notes:: Yup, just how we drew it up @OsoJ92 | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/pgPACTXHBy— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 23, 2022
Toronto had another opportunity just two minutes later, as a Criscito shot was deflected by the defence, and Bernardeschi’s shot went just wide of the far post.
The Italian No. 10 would assist a goal in the 10th minute via a corner to his new captain Michael Bradley, who headed the ball home.
The @fbernardeschi to Bradley connection pic.twitter.com/6ACsHJAEes— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 23, 2022
Charlotte had a chance to pull a goal back in the 30th minute. A switch from Andre Shinyashiki to the box came to Kamil Jóźwiak, his shot was no trouble for ‘keeper Alex Bono as he calmly made the save.
One minute later, TFC would add a third goal. Provider turned goalscorer as Bernardeschi joined in on the fun with a low and powerful shot from outside the 18-yard box.
Benvenuto a Toronto @fbernardeschi | #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/wXQum6HXHX— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 24, 2022
The former Juventus man is the first player to record a goal and an assist before halftime of his MLS debut since Fredy Montero for the Seattle Sounders back in 2009.
Toronto added a fourth goal in first half stoppage time, Bradley made it a brace for himself with a dazzling run through the Charlotte half as he chipped Kahlina to end off the play.
Outrageous. Simply outrageous. pic.twitter.com/FDi3Q74B0g— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 24, 2022
Jiménez almost had a goal for himself in the 62nd minute. A cross from Criscito was headed down by Kerr and into the Spaniard’s path as he tried an audacious overhead kick, the shot went over the bar.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute when captain Christian Fuchs was sent off after a violent challenge on Jayden Nelson who was about to be on a breakaway.
Toronto kept things quiet for the remainder of the match as they recorded their first clean sheet in MLS since September 25, 2021.
In post-game availability, Bernardeschi spoke about the squad mentality tonight:
“When the team plays well, the personality of a single player is brought up,” said Bernardeschi.
Bob Bradley added his thoughts:
“Really good start, everybody was excited. You could see in a short amount of time that the players connected on the field. The more that guys connect, the more ideas go fast, the better the football gets,” said Bradley.
Insigne on MLS:
“It’s certainly different from Europe, but there’s a very strong energy and that’s very important. You need to be fit to get results, and that’s what matters,” said Insigne.
TFC has a quick turnaround, as their next match is the Canadian Championship Final against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday. Kick-off is set for 10:30 pm EST (7:30 PST) at BC Place.