The clock is ticking: Can Insigne and Bernardeschi rescue TFC's future?

Charlotte FC v Toronto FC
Charlotte FC v Toronto FC / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

As Toronto FC gears up for the preseason, all eyes are on the club's Designated Players, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. The Italian stars, who dominated winter discussions about a potential return to Italy, reported for medicals on Saturday, signaling their presence as the team prepares for the upcoming season.

The situation surrounding Insigne and Bernardeschi is intricate. Despite being designated as major stars, their on-field performance has not matched the expectations set for players in their position.

As the highest earners on the team, they occupy valuable Designated Player slots, limiting the club's flexibility, especially concerning the third DP slot. This has led to frustration among fans, who question the duo's form, output, and commitment.

Coach John Herdman acknowledges the complexity of the situation, describing the players' integration into the team's revival as "A continual process." Speaking on ESPN’s Futbol Americas podcast, Herdman emphasized the need for buy-in from the players, stating, "They’ve had a reset, they’re getting a full preseason, and we’ll work on that buy-in towards what they want – to become top in MLS."

While Herdman expresses optimism about Insigne and Bernardeschi's commitment, he makes it clear that time is running out. The upcoming season serves as a crucial opportunity for the duo to prove their dedication to the team and its goals.

Despite ongoing speculation linking the Italian players to potential moves, Herdman remains focused on the challenge of resurrecting Toronto FC from a challenging season. For the English coach, the redemption narrative is a familiar and motivating force, one that he thrives on throughout his career.

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As the preseason unfolds, the spotlight will be on Insigne and Bernardeschi, who must turn their commitment into on-field success, aligning with the club's aspirations for a triumphant season.