Lorenzo Insigne returns for Toronto FC after groin injury


Not all ties are created equal. Especially not for Toronto FC.

Despite the Reds playing to their fourth straight draw (and sixth in seven games), Saturday night's 2-2 result at home against Atlanta United must've felt much better than the others.

For starters, it came thanks to a last-gasp goal from Brandon Servania in the 94th minute.

And perhaps even more important: the match marked the return of Lorenzo Insigne, the highest-paid player in MLS.

Sidelined since suffering a Matchday 1 groin injury, the Italian superstar was back in action for TFC as a second-half substitute, entering the BMO Field pitch moments after Machop Chol's go-ahead goal in the 76th minute that was dramatically canceled out by Servania.

And Insigne was decisive, beginning the play that ended in the dramatic equalizer just as extra time expired.

"As far as going into the game and still being smart enough and know how to handle certain moments, he can do that," Toronto sporting director and head coach Bob Bradley said about Insigne having an impact despite only participating in two training sessions before seeing actual minutes.

"We need to just get him some time so that it adds up more so that he's more dynamic and that he's the full package of what Lorenzo could bring.

"So we have to keep getting him pushed along in training. We'll see what next week looks like."

Whether he's in the starting lineup or not for Matchday 9's visit to the Philadelphia Union, teammate Richie Laryea expects Insigne to help pull Toronto out of their four-game winless streak.

"When he's on, he's going to be the best player in the league," the Canadian international, who evened the score at 1-1 two minutes before the break with a sensational solo effort, said about the Napoli legend who joined MLS midway through last season.

"So to have a guy like that and playing alongside a guy like Fede [Bernardeschi], who is one of the best players in the league, it's only going to help us."

For Laryea, Insigne's presence could very well provide the impetus for Toronto – ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 1W-1L-6D record – to move up in the standings and return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out on the 2021 and 2022 editions.

"Now he's back and hopefully able to stay healthy for the rest of the season," Laryea said. "I'm sure he'll contribute in a huge way."