Italy's Bernardeschi, Insigne turns heads in their MLS debut with Toronto FC

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TORONTO — Italian stars Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne combined for a goal and two assists for Toronto FC in their MLS debut Saturday, a 4-0 win over expansion Charlotte FC.

The 28-year-old Bernardeschi is the first player to record a goal and an assist before halftime of his first MLS appearance since Fredy Montero for Seattle in 2009. He also joined Alejandro Pozuelo, who was traded to make room for the former Juventus winger, as the only TFC player to score a goal and register an assist in his MLS debut.

A look at some other notable Toronto debuts:

Pozuelo, traded earlier this month to Inter Miami to make room for Bernardeschi, was sensational in his first outing for Toronto. The Spanish playmaker scored two memorable goals and set up another in a 4-0 win over New York City FC in March 2019.

Jozy Altidore also scored a pair in his regular-season debut for Toronto, helping TFC win 3-1 at Vancouver in the 2015 season opener. Sebastian Giovinco opened his MLS scoring account three games later with a goal in Toronto's 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire.

Giovinco, who signed with Italy's Sampdoria in February, is TFCs all-time leading goal-scorer with 83 in all competitions. Altidore, now with the New England Revolution, ranks second with 79. Pozuelo is fifth with 30.

England international Jermain Defoe scored in his MLS debut, with a pair of goals in Toronto's 2-1 win at Seattle in the 2014 season opener. Defoe lasted one season in Toronto colours before returning home.

Dutch striker Danny Koevermans scored in his second outing for Toronto, a 4-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City in July 2011.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2022

The Canadian Press

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