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The Reds are entering a magnificent part of their lineup once Lorenzo (Il Magnifico) Insigne joins the club.
Toronto FC plays four consecutive home MLS games, starting with Saturday’s match at BMO Field against Atlanta United.
This should be exciting for manager Bob Bradley and the club’s fans, but what’s even more exciting, of course, is Insigne wearing the TFC uniform.
Insigne brings a lot to the table and the Reds can use his help. TFC are 12th in the MLS Eastern Conference (W4 8 L 3D), five points off a playoff berth – although the club is coming off an emphatic 4-0 win over MLS rivals CF Montreal on Wednesday night. in the Canadian Championship semifinals. Insigne, who has captained Italy and Napoli, will provide additional veteran leadership for the Reds and will certainly bolster the club’s attack, which has shown signs of life recently with most of their injured players returning to the squad. Having Insigne, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jesus Jimenez, Ayo Akinola and Jonathan Osorio on the field would undoubtedly mean a lot of goals and give TFC opponents nightmares. Insigne’s preferred position is left, but he can also play as a second striker and left midfield, giving Bradley several offensive options. In eleven seasons with Napoli, Insigne has 417 appearances, scored 114 goals and 95 assists in all competitions.
And while Insigne’s arrival is being heralded by the TFC fanbase, it must be remembered that a player, no matter how good, cannot bring a mediocre team to a championship. The entire cast has to take a stand. TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who was in goal in the game against Montreal on Wednesday, said the Reds cannot expect Insigne to touch Toronto and suddenly lead the team to great success straight away. Expecting Insigne to take TFC to the promised land immediately puts a lot of pressure on the 5-foot Italian’s diminutive shoulders.
“To be very down-to-earth about it, he’s another teammate. It’s great that we’re getting a quality boost from him and I hope he and his family feel amazing (in Toronto), so he settles down here ASAP. But football is not basketball,” Westberg said. “We are 11 years old. I hardly ever saw a person lift everyone up. It’s about creating a more positive environment, rather than expecting everything from one person. And then understand that once we’re on the field, there are 18-year-olds and 35-year-olds and there’s everything in between. It’s understanding that, no matter how good a backup, we can’t depend on a superhero arriving (and doing everything) and we can’t put too many expectations on their shoulders. If we start expecting him to move a mountain (alone), I think it’s bad for us. That would be a hell of a shortcut. You need to create a supportive environment for individuals to excel. We cannot expect one player to trigger everything. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“One person alone, no matter how great, can have a very positive impact, don’t get me wrong,” added Westberg. “But you need to create an environment for success.”
What the inclusion of Insigne also won’t address is TFC’s leaky defense. The Reds have conceded 29 goals in 15 MLS games – the most in the Eastern Conference, although against CF Montreal on Wednesday the Reds played their first clean sheet since last September. TFC are looking to sign one or two other Serie A players, including possibly Genoa left-back Domenico Criscito, Torino striker Andrea Belotti and/or Juventus attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi. Italian media are full of reports that Criscito, 35, may be on his way to Toronto. His club Genoa have been relegated to Serie B, so Criscito may be open to change.
Insigne will arrive in Toronto on Friday and will attend an event in Little Italy (Clinton and College) at around 5pm. island of Sardinia after the end of the Serie A season. The Insignes have two boys, Carmine, 9, and Christian, 7.
TFC signed Insigne to a contract in January – the most lucrative MLS deal of all time – four years at $15 million a season – so there is tremendous pressure on him and the club. The MLS secondary transfer window opens on July 7, so Insigne’s first TFC game would be July 9, when the San Jose Earthquakes visit BMO Field — if he’s healthy and ready to play. The Naples native recently suffered a ‘small calf problem’.
Insigne was likely impressed by Toronto against Montreal on Wednesday night, with two goals from Brampton native Akinola, with singles going to Jimenez and Pozuelo. The Reds face Vancouver in the Voyageurs Cup final on a date to be determined in July after Vancouver scored two second-half goals from forward Brian White to defeat York United 2-1 in the other semi on Wednesday. The final winner receives the Voyageurs Cup and a trip to next year’s Concacaf Champions League competition.
Toronto won the 2020 Canadian Championship title (which was delayed by two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic) on June 4 against CPL’s Forge FC and now has a chance to win two Voyageurs Cups in one season.
TFC has won a record eight Canadian championships, while Montreal won five and the Whitecaps one.