For Toronto FC, there is nothing better than a win in Carolina.
Stunning goals from Italy internationals Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi saw TFC defeat hosts Charlotte FC 2-0 in a huge two-sided match at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night.
The win moved Toronto ahead of Charlotte in the Eastern Conference standings. The Reds (9-13-6) are just three points away from his spot in the playoffs, which three teams jump over with six games left. TFC’s playoff potential seemed dead in the water a few weeks ago, but now it looks like the possibility of reaching the postseason is a reality.
TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono said: “I think they played really well today in a tough environment. I give them a lot of credit. It’s not easy to win away games in this league, so they came to this stadium. It’s really exciting to get the three points for the win.”
Saturday’s win definitely took on an Italian flavor with Insigne scoring in the 49th minute. The goal was a perfect corner kick by Bernardeschi, who scored his fifth goal of the season in the 66th minute to give Toronto a two-point lead.
Lightning delayed the TFC’s first game in Charlotte by just over an hour.
Joining TFC from Juventus midway through the season, Bernardeschi continues to prove his worth with great consistency on both ends of the field. Insigne has scored some big goals and has been explosive in attack at times, but so far he has been the more impressive of the two with Bernardeschi.
Bono said of Insigne and Bernardeschi, “Nothing about them surprises me anymore.” I saw it in
The win was also a sweet redemption for Bono, who made some great saves in the second half to keep the win after allowing several obscure goals in the previous two games. It was Toronto’s third clean sheet of the season.
“I was a bit disappointed the last few games because I was down in weight, so it was nice to come back and have some confidence and the guys around me were playing great,” Bono said. “It was great to be able to defend as a team.”
Charlotte dominated possession (59% vs. 41%) and had a total of 19-11 Toronto shooting, while many of the home team’s shots came from long rage. The host side managed a 4-for-3 shot in Toronto’s goal with a 6-for-3 corner by the visitors.
The TFC were without veteran starting midfielders Jonathan Osorio (who scored nine goals for Toronto) and Marc Anthony Kay. Osorio reportedly hasn’t been feeling well this week. In their place, coach Bob Bradley started teenagers Jaden Nelson and DeAndre Carr. Carr was replaced by yet another teenager, Kosi Thompson. Bradley again started Ayo Aquinola at forward ahead of Jesús Jimenez. Both strikers are in a horrible slump. Jimenez, who has scored eight goals in the season, has not scored in 11 consecutive games, and Akinola has not scored in 14 games.
The Reds scored four goals in the first half against Charlotte when the two sides met for the first time this season on 23 July at BMO Field (the first time all three Italian players were on the field at the same time at the TFC). But Toronto couldn’t.Score in the opening 45 on Saturday night. For a team that seemed to be battling hard to make the playoffs, the TFC looked pretty lethargic in the first half.
Bono was on good form from the start, saving a Curwin Vargas flick with a goal in the 18th minute.
Charlotte almost opened the scoring two minutes into the second half when Kamil Yoswiak picked up a pass and went solo for Bono, but threw the ball from the side of goal.
Toronto opened the scoring a minute later with a spectacular corner kick that saw Bernardeschi find his compatriot at the back post and Insignier fired a right-footed shot into the top left corner.
Bono made a great save from Andre Sinyashiki in the 65th minute to keep Toronto ahead after centre-back Lucas McNaughton let loose. Bernardeschi played well to return the ball and clear it.
Seconds later, Bernardeschi doubled Toronto’s lead when he picked up a cross-field pass from Insignie on the left, moved into the box and fired a beautiful left-footed shot into the left corner of the goal.
Bernardeschi almost scored a second with a header after compatriot Domenico Crisito’s excellent set-up in the 76th minute, but Charlotte defender Christian Fuchs kicked the ball into goal.
After struggling with confidence and health in the last half of the season, TFC centre-back Chris Mabinga continued to improve and put up a great defensive performance in the game. The Reds’ other standout players were the returning Richie Laria and Thompson in the second half.
Toronto will take on the visiting LA Galaxy next Wednesday night against former coach Greg Bunney, who was at the helm during the TFC’s 201 domestic treble victory. The Reds have won the Canadian Championship, Supporters Shield and MLS Cup titles. Former Reds Victor Vazquez and Mark Delgado are also with the Galaxy.
Insigne and Bernardeschi scores keep Viva Italiano alive in TFC’s playoff hopes
Source link Insigne and Bernardeschi scores keep Viva Italiano alive in TFC’s playoff hopes