Rivalry Week

Toronto FC "gave everything": Bernardeschi powers Canadian Classique rout


Things are different for Toronto FC in 2024.

After a Wooden Spoon and the worst season in club history (22 points) in 2023, head coach John Herdman has sought to re-energize what was once one of the top clubs in MLS. If Rivalry Week presented by Continental Tire was any indication, the former Canada men's national team manager's mission is well on track.

Toronto cruised to a 5-1 win over CF Montréal in Saturday's Canadian Classiqué at BMO Field behind Federico Bernardeschi's first MLS hat trick – ending the club's five-match winless streak against their arch-rival.

The Reds are now fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, matching their point total from a season ago in 14 matches (7W-6L-1D).

"We deserve a night like that. We deserve that. I think maybe it's one of the best performances that I have seen here in Toronto. We are very happy," Bernardeschi said post-match.

Bernadeschi noted: "We gave everything on the field. The result, it's very important for us and for the city."

Bernardeschi stays hot

Bernardeschi has often been the target of criticism since joining Toronto in July 2022 from Juventus. But the former Italian international and Euro 2020 champion has reached new heights this month, performing as his sizable contract and Designated Player tag would suggest.

"He's a really caring man. From what I can see, he's a good dad, good husband. And what I'm seeing now is he's a great teammate. He's really taken on that leadership role," Herdman said.

"Tonight, to see him score a hat trick was special because [for] 10 games it was tough for him. I mean, he was struggling inside. Everyone's asking the question 'Is he ever going to score for Toronto?' And we just knew it would come."

TFC's local products made proud

Despite not being from Canada, Herdman has received an up-close view of the magnitude of the Canadian Classique and its significance to both Toronto and Montréal fanbases.

It's also significant to the players on his roster from the Greater Toronto Area, as Herdman underscored during his team talk before the match. Chief among them are club captain Jonathan Osorio and other homegrowns like Kobe Franklin, Deandre Kerr, and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty.

"When we signed for this club, we took on the responsibility for days like this, and that we would do it for those six, seven lads in the room, we would do it for them today," Herdman said. "That was the start and I let Jonathan finish. He took the room himself and he said what needed to be said. He cares. He cares a lot."

The TFC head coach added: "They put a hell of a shift in. We asked them to just bring a lot of passion and to bring the discipline around the tactical identity. We knew we had a lot of quality on the pitch but you have to use it, and I thought they did that tonight on many occasions."