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Oppo Research: 5 Things about Toronto FC

Waking the Red's Tom Nightingale tells us why Toronto are dangerous this year, and why Lorenzo Insigne now looks like the player they hoped they were getting.

Ciao, Lorenzo |

In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Tom Nightingale of Waking the Red to learn more about Toronto FC,  New York City FC's opponent at Yankee Soccer Stadium on Saturday. Here is your NYCFC vs Toronto FC preview.

1. The cultural reset worked

Hudson River Blue: Toronto finished bottom of the Eastern Conference last season but started this season strongly and currently sit 5th in the Eastern Conference. What has led to the positive start after a disappointing 2023 season?

Tom Nightingale: TFC president Bill Manning and head coach John Herdman have spoken numerous times of the need for a culture reset and that's exactly what Herdman looks to be bringing. As coach of the Canadian men's national team, Herdman consistently used the word "brotherhood" to describe his team and this TFC roster suddenly looked like brothers after all too often seeming like strangers in 2023.

Herdman installed his Canadian deputy Jonathan Osorio as Michael Bradley's replacement and is getting a tune out of mercurial Italian Designated Players Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. Former NYCFC All-Star Sean Johnson was superb in goal in the first two games and will hopefully return to the XI after a niggle kept him out last weekend. Johnson underpins a newfound defensive resilience from this team. Three clean sheets in a row to start 2024 would have been utterly unthinkable a few months ago from this team who conceded an East-worst 59 goals in 2023. It all adds up to a wave of positivity carrying this team forward through the early weeks of the season.

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