April 23rd, 2024

Insigne scores with audacious chip as Toronto FC finally wins on the road

By The Canadian Press on March 3, 2024.

Toronto FC forward Lorenzo Insigne gestures during an MLS soccer match against FC Cincinnati, in Cincinnati, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Dean

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lorenzo Insigne scored with an audacious chip and Toronto FC hung on to defeat the New England Revolution 1-0 on Sunday for its first MLS victory away from home since Aug. 27, 2022, when it won 2-1 at Charlotte FC.

Having started the season with a scoreless draw at FC Cincinnati, Toronto (1-0-1) now has four points on the road, matching its total last season when the club went 0-13-4 and picked up just four of a possible 51 points away from home.

New England lost for the second week in a row.

Insigne’s 27th-minute goal was an inspired effort. Federico Bernardeschi’s attempted shot deflected off a defender and landed in front of Insigne, who steadied the ball, looked up to weigh his options and then nonchalantly chipped the ball into the far corner past a disbelieving Slovak goalkeeper Heinrich Ravas.

Insigne gave fans a scare when he clutched the back of his thigh during his goal celebration, seemingly stretching it out. Then he grinned and started walking normally, perhaps his way of saying last year’s injury-plagued campaign is indeed behind him.

The Italian was substituted at halftime, his time limited on Gillette Stadium’s (albeit new) artificial turf as coach John Herdman had suggested would be the case prior to the game.

The strike ended a 916-minute goal drought away from home in league play for Toronto, dating back to June 24, 2023, when Deandre Kerr scored in a 2-1 loss at New England. TFC’s last goal anywhere came Sept. 30 at BMO Field by Jonathan Osorio in a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati. Toronto had been blanked for the 433 minutes since.

Some stout, and occasionally desperate, defence in the second half helped Toronto. Sean Johnson made key saves on both Gil brothers, Carles and Nacho, as well as Esmir Bajraktarevic – and a game-saving one-handed stop on Jack Panayotou in stoppage time.

At the other end, Osorio rattled the crossbar with a shot in the 75th minute.

Johnson has started the season with back-to-back shutouts while Herdman has his first victory as Toronto coach.

For a second week in a row, Toronto was visiting a team coming off a short turnaround from CONCACAF Champions Cup play. The Revs blanked Panama’s CAI 3-0 at home Thursday to win 4-0 on aggregate and move into the round of 16.

French defender Nicksoen Gomis made his Toronto debut, coming in for the injured Richie Laryea (thigh) in the only change to Herdman’s starting 11.

Germany’s Prince Owusu got the start at forward for the second week in a row with Kerr still nursing a calf issue.

Newly acquired English midfielder Matty Longstaff did not dress for TFC, which wore its new white “community kit.”

New England was missing Dylan Borrero (knee), Brandon Bye (knee), Peyton Miller (foot) and Bobby Wood (knee). Carles Gil and defender Henry Kessler both started despite being listed questionable on the league’s injury report. Former TFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye came off the bench in the 61st minute.

Italian forward Giacomo Vrioni, one of the Revs’ designated players, was suspended after being sent off last week.

Referee Wesley Costa went to the pitchside monitor in the 22nd minute to check for a possible penalty against Toronto, but waved it off after watching the replay. Deybi Flores had seemed to get a piece of Bajraktarevic’s foot.

A 32nd-minute goal by Owusu was called off for offside.

New England lost its season opener 3-1 at D.C. United, beaten by a Christian Benteke hat trick.

Despite the improved showing last week in Cincinnati, TFC came to Gillette Stadium having won just one of its last 19 games (1-18-0) in all competitions.

The Revs (15-9-10) finished fifth in the Eastern Conference last year, 33 points and 10 places above Toronto (4-20-10). New England went 12-1-4 at home in league play in 2023, setting a club record for most home points earned in a season (40).

The Revs had won six straight (3-0-2) against TFC and led the all-time series at 16-10-13, including an 11-4-5 record at Gillette Stadium.

Toronto next hosts Charlotte FC on March 9.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2024

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