May 24th, 2024

Bernardeschi scores twice to end goal drought, lift Toronto FC past FC Dallas

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 4, 2024.

Toronto FC forward Federico Bernardeschi (10) scores on FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes (30) during first half MLS action in Toronto, Saturday, May 4, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

TORONTO – Italian star Federico Bernardeschi ended a lengthy scoreless drought with a pair of goals and added an assist Saturday to help Toronto FC defeat FC Dallas 3-1 in MLS play, extending TFC’s winning streak to four games in all competitions.

Bernardeschi had been shut out in 19 games since scoring twice in a 3-2 loss to CF Montreal on Aug. 20. But the stylish attacker, who has played a variety of roles this season, has still been an influential figure for TFC.

And the former Juventus man was a threat all night Saturday before an announced crowd of 24,257 at BMO Field.

Substitute Matty Longstaff added an insurance goal in the 83rd minute, his first in MLS, with an assist from Bernardeschi and Tyrese Spicer. Longstaff’s older brother, Sean, scored for Newcastle United earlier in the day in a 4-1 win over Burnley in English Premier League play.

Sam Junqua scored a consolation goal for Dallas in the 87th minute.

Toronto (6-4-1) started slowly but came on as the first half wore on. And Bernardeschi appeared to have got on the scoresheet in the 39th minute when, receiving the ball from Jonathan Osorio just inside the penalty box, he pivoted and sent a low shot past Dutch-born goalkeeper Maarten Paes.

But the Italian’s celebration was short-lived as referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere, after being summoned to the pitch-side monitor by the video assistant referee, waved the goal off for offside.

Bernardeschi got a second bite at the apple in first-half stoppage time when Lauziere pointed to the penalty spot after Osorio went down in a challenge from Patrickson Delgado, who had seemed to get the ball.

The penalty call survived video review with Bernardeschi standing over the ball, waiting to take the spot kick. Paes made the save but could not get to the rebound and the Italian knocked it home.

Dallas (2-6-2) understandably did not like the call.

Bernardeschi, the team’s designated penalty-taker, also missed a spot kick April 20 in a 1-0 win over New England. He had been good on his previous seven penalties.

There was no mistake with Bernardeschi’s second goal, a highlight-reel banger in the 52nd minute that saw the Italian cut to his left and hammer a shot into the top corner from outside the penalty box.

FC Dallas was making its first trip to BMO Field since 2018.

The Texas side arrived on the back of a 2-0 win over Houston which ended a seven-game winless run that followed a 2-1 win over San Jose in the Feb. 24 season opener.

It marked the first meeting between the two teams since February 2022 when they drew 1-1 in Frisco, Texas. Toronto had not beaten Dallas since a 1-0 decision in July 2016 at BMO Field, going 0-3-1 since against the Texans.

Dallas arrived with a 11-2-6 career edge in league play.

But Toronto went into the weekend in fourth place in the Eastern Conference while Dallas was 13th in the West, with only one of its eight points collected away from home where it was 0-3-1.

Toronto coach John Herdman made two changes to his starting 11, giving newly acquired winger Derrick Etienne Jr. his first start and Spicer.

The club had no comment on a report that it has reached a mutual agreement with Canadian forward Ayo Akinola to terminate his contract. But such a move would not come as a surprise given the 24-year-old has seen just 82 minutes of playing time in the league this season spread over five appearances.

Akinola, whose contract runs through 2023 with an option for 2025, made US$771,875 last season.

Canadian international midfielder Liam Fraser, a former Toronto homegrown player, started for Dallas with former TFC defender Omar Gonzalez on the bench.

Toronto was forced to withdraw Raoul Petretta in the 16th minute after a nasty tackle from Croatian forward Peter Musa.

Both teams were missing players through injuries.

Toronto was without Lorenzo Insigne, Richie Laryea, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Shane O’Neill and Brandon Servania. The club signed TFC 2 forward Jesús Batiz to an MLS short-term agreement for the game for some insurance.

The 24-year-old Honduran has started all five of TFC 2’s 2024 MLS Next Pro matches to date, with two goals and two assists.

Dallas was missing Geovane Jesus, Amet Korca, Sebastian Lletget, Paxton Pomykal and Argentine designated player Alan Velasco.

The visitors sent on Jesus Ferreira to start the second half. The designated player’s minutes have been limited of late as he returns from a hamstring injury.

Toronto plays at CS Saint-Laurent on Wednesday in Canadian Championship quarterfinal play before hosting New York City FC on Saturday. Dallas entertains USL Championship side Memphis 901 FC in U.S. Open Cup round-of-32 play Tuesday.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2024

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