Since they arrived midseason Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, as well as their countryman Domenico Criscito, have been excellent additions to Toronto FC.
The duo have in combination scored 14 goals and registered 5 assists in 11 and 13 matches, respectively. Most, if not all of them, have been spectacular at that. One couldn’t ask for anything more from a pair of players who will be part of the core group and identity of the team going forward.
Both spoke at Wednesday’s end of season press conferences.
“I'm disappointed with the outcome of the season because it was not a good season. We don't have playoffs and this for me is not good,” said Bernardeschi, with occasional assistance from a translator. “But we will try next season [to write] another story. For me it is important to win next season. We will try to win a trophy for sure.”
Coming to a new club, a new league, and a new city midway through the campaign is always difficult. Both managed to adapt to the new surroundings with style. For a while it looked as though the boost they provided would be enough to propel the team into the postseason, but in the end it was not.
YEAR-END MEDIA AVAILABILITY | Federico Bernardeschi - October 12, 2022
“This was a difficult transition coming in. I knew it was going to be a difficult transition,” said Insigne via the translator. “Me, Federico, Mimmo [Criscito], and Richie [Laryea and Mark-Anthony Kaye], we all arrived late.”
“But next year we’re going to start together, we’re going to be united, we’re going to stick together,” he added. “It's going to be a great season and we know we’re going to win many things.”
The adjustment to MLS, a unique league, has tripped up many great players in the past, but both took to it swimmingly and this experience will help their preparations for 2023.
“To be honest what surprised me most is the intensity of MLS,” remarked Insigne. “Before I signed, I'd never watched any games; since January I started watching. It's incredibly intense.”
“And it's great how I see players from all over Europe joining the league,” he continued. “Making it a more important league, a serious league.”
Bernardeschi concurred: “For sure, it's a workout.”
“It's a different league, it’s a different country for me,” he added. “But I integrated myself into the team and that was the most important thing.”
One can anticipate those challenges, but not the ones that real life throws. The Insigne Family suffered a great loss in their first months in their new home.
“Not everybody knows what happened to us. We had a great family problem,” said Insigne. “I have great difficulty explaining what happened, it's a great loss for me and my wife. We're going to stay united, we have two other great children that help us going forward, but she’s always going to be in our thoughts.”
Love helps in tough times.
Insigne, an icon in his hometown Napoli, has felt it from the TFC faithful, but also the city as a whole.
“I feel the love from the fans, but also from the people,” he said. “My family and my children, we're very happy to be here. We’re experiencing the city, everything it offers, and we hope that we continue to be as happy.”
YEAR-END MEDIA AVAILABILITY | Lorenzo Insigne - October 12, 2022
Bernardeschi too is pleased with his decision to come to Toronto.
“This choice, my choice is a great choice. I have more trust in the city, more trust in the people, in TFC. I love the city, I love the people, I love the fans,” he said. “I couldn't have made a better decision than coming to Toronto.”
Both will return to Italy for a spell before returning ahead of next season.
“[End of] October I’ll be going to Italy [to get] organized,” said Bernardeschi. “When I arrived here, I wasn’t very organized because in two or three days I came here. Back to Italy, but I’ll return in a few months.”
Added Insigne: “The boys are in school right now, we're going to stay here until they finish and then we're going to pass over Christmas vacation with our family. We've never been away from home for so long, we want to be back for Christmas.”
A well-deserved break is in order, preseason will be getting underway soon enough, and a big season awaits.
“When you begin any new project, you need time, you need hard work, and you need sacrifice to win,” said Bernardeschi, making a statement after the questions had ended. “To reach success it’s not just pieces here and there. There's a big project, it’s a structure, and we learned from the past season. We're going to build from there and move forward for our success as a team.”
He had a message to the fans as well: “Thank you so much for supporting the team. It was a difficult season, I know. Our fans gave a lot of support and we're in need of the support. This support is what's going to bring us to success next year.”
“To create a story we all [need to] go in the same direction and that's the most important,” Bernareschi added. “I've seen that since the first day I arrived in Toronto. The new season is another story for sure. Don’t worry.”