Labeled a "coach's decision" on Friday by head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley, the move comes amid Toronto sitting last in the Eastern Conference standings on 13 points and with one win in their last 10 league matches (1W-4L-5D). Toronto also have dealt with a lengthy list of injuries to their veteran-heavy roster.
“Sincerely, this team, this city, the fans, everybody don't deserve this, and I think maybe we need to change something," said the former Juventus star, who, per MLS Players Association figures, is the fourth-highest paid player in MLS.
"We need to [have] a little bit more tactics. We need an idea of how we play because this is the real problem for me. It's impossible to play like this when we play without [an] idea. This is the big problem for me.”
Bradley, who's in his second year in Toronto, called the remarks "out of line" earlier this week.
The decision to drop Bernardeschi leaves Toronto without their strongest offensive weapon (3g/3a) this season against a surging D.C. side that's won four out of their last seven games.
Fellow Italian DP Lorenzo Insigne, who missed the trip to Austin due to a foot injury, has been cleared to return against the Black-and-Red.
Bernadeschi and Insigne both joined Toronto last summer after starring in Serie A and helping Italy win the delayed 2020 UEFA European Championship. They couldn't spark an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return in 2022, and are now centerpieces of Bradley's remade squad.