New look Toronto FC delivers in season opener

February 26, 2024

In Toronto FC's season opening 0-0 draw with FC Cincinnati, the spotlight was on their Italian imports - Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi -  and they didn't disappoint. Despite comparisons to their performance last year, which were considered disastrous, this time around, they showed a notable improvement.

One of the key observations was Lorenzo Insigne's behavior on the bench after being substituted. His heightened engagement, vocal encouragement, and evident leadership qualities marked a significant shift in his role within the team. According to Coach John Herdman, Insigne's commitment exemplifies the team's collective buy-in, especially considering the preseason upheaval when he was stripped of the captaincy.

Alongside Insigne, another standout was Bernardeschi, who displayed remarkable involvement throughout the game. Their contributions echoed the initial impact they made upon joining TFC, indicating a promising start to the season. While it's crucial to acknowledge that it's just the beginning, their performance against the reigning Supporter Shield winners showcased glimpses of potential.

Sean Johnson's stellar goalkeeping was a highlight, but perhaps the most noteworthy aspect was the team's defensive display. Historically plagued by defensive lapses, TFC demonstrated a newfound resilience, a stark departure from conceding  record number of goals last season. The addition of Kevin Long, signed quietly last week, bolstered the backline, offering organization and stability reminiscent of his successful stint at Burnley.

With a solid defensive foundation and a midfield anchored by Deybi Flores, TFC seems to be addressing longstanding weaknesses. However, the absence of a prolific striker remains a concern, highlighting an area for improvement. Nevertheless, the team's cohesive performance against a formidable opponent like Cincinnati instills confidence in the potential cultural shift under John Herdman's leadership.

Despite the optimism surrounding the team's prospects, there's an underlying sense of disinterest among some fans, stemming from years of disappointment. The recent struggles, both on and off the pitch, have tested supporters' patience, underscoring the urgency for a turnaround this season.

Richard Laryea's impressive showing in the match added to the positive sentiments. His versatility and familiarity with Herdman's tactics bode well for the team's future endeavors.

In summary, while it's early days in the season, Toronto FC's performance offers a glimmer of hope for fans longing for a resurgence. The contributions of their Italian contingent, coupled with promising defensive improvements, set a positive tone for the campaign ahead. As they navigate the challenges and expectations, TFC aims to not only revive their on-field fortunes but also reinvigorate fan enthusiasm, signaling a new chapter in the club's journey.

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