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Recap: Toronto FC keeps playoff dream alive with win over Charlotte FC

Second half strikes from Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi helped TFC to a 2-0 victory on the road.

MLS: Toronto FC at Charlotte FC
Federico Berardeschi holds the ball during the first half against Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi both scored in the second half to give Toronto FC a massive 2-0 win in Charlotte on Saturday night.

TFC claimed their second win on the road in MLS this season, providing a big boost for their late season playoff push.

Following their disappointing loss to Inter Miami last weekend, anything less than three points in Charlotte would have been considered a failure and would realistically dash any hopes of a postseason berth.

The Reds had to wait a bit longer to get back to winning ways, with kickoff in the Queen City being delayed for an hour due to reported lightning in the area. After Bob Bradley’s side netted four in the first half during the last match between these two sides at BMO Field, it would be a more tepid first 45 in TFC’s first ever visit to Bank of America Stadium.

Charlotte FC controlled much of the possession from the start, but were unable to truly trouble Alex Bono in the Toronto FC goal.

The best chances of the half would fall to Kerwin Vargas. The Colombian winger had a speculative backheel effort stopped by Bono in the 17th minute. He also got a strong header on target moments later, but was denied a second time by the TFC goalkeeper.

Earning a start due to the absence of Jonathan Osorio, Deandre Kerr would come off injured in the first half, being replaced by Kosi Thompson, who made a rare appearance in the TFC midfield.

The visitors were unable to muster a shot on target during the opening interval, but the match remained scoreless at the half, and was really either side’s for the taking. It would be Toronto FC coming out of halftime ready to break the deadlock.

Winning a corner in the 49th minute, a deep in-swinger from Bernardeschi found an open Insigne at the back post, who was able to squeeze it past Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. That goal would be the first combination between the two Italian designated players.

Charlotte’s manager Christian Lattanzio then put more men forward in search of an equalizer. Forward Andre Shinyashiki was brought on from the bench to spark some life into the attack, with the Brazilian coming close to tie up the match in the 65th minute. His close range effort was pushed away by Bono.

Going the other way though, the Reds would put the Crown to the sword.

Repaying the favour from the first goal, Insigne switched the ball to the right into the path of his compatriot Bernardeschi, who chested it down, looking to cut in. On his left foot, Bernardeschi swept the ball past the outstretched Kahlina, doubling the lead for his team.

Ten minutes later, Bernardeschi would be denied his first brace for Toronto. Heading the ball towards goal, Charlotte’s Christian Fuchs would get behind the effort, clearing it before it could hit the mesh.

Charlotte would not cause too much trouble for Toronto at the back, failing to score for the second time in four matches. The 2-0 scoreline gave the Reds their third MLS clean sheet of the season, with all three coming in their last seven matches.

The three points collected propel TFC above Charlotte FC in the Eastern Conference standings, with Toronto now on 33 points through 28 games.

To make a good night even better, Toronto FC were handed some helpful results on Saturday involving the teams they are battling for a playoff spot. Inter Miami lost to the New York Red Bulls, while FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew dropped points in a 2-2 draw.

Toronto FC will play host to the LA Galaxy in their next fixture on Wednesday, August 31st.