Offside with Taylor Twellman

Twellman's Takes: Insigne & Toronto FC can "surprise some people" in 2024


We're four matchdays into the 2024 MLS season and our reference point on teams and players continues to grow.

Before all Matchday 5 games are free to watch on MLS Season Pass this weekend, the latest Twellman's Takes are here.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

Toronto FC were rock-bottom in MLS one year ago, finishing 29th overall (last place) in the league. Just about everything that could go wrong did, especially with their high-priced Italian forwards.

So far in 2024, though? The Reds look reborn under head coach John Herdman, sitting unbeaten (2W-0L-1D) through Matchday 4.

"So much attention has been on \[Lorenzo\] Insigne and \[Federico\] Bernardeschi because in this league your highest-paid players have to deliver. End of story. And needless to say, they haven't up to this point," Twellman said.

"But now, for the first time in their history, they've got a clean sheet in three straight games to open a season led by their goalkeeper Sean Johnson. And their two wins are off the back of two wonderfully taken goals from Insigne."

Insigne is producing the highlight-reel moments, like last weekend's golazo against Charlotte FC. And while those might not be consistently replicable long-term, everyone seems to be heading in the same direction.

"Watch the celebration with the new manager, Insigne and his teammates," Twellman said. "If John Herdman gets buy-in from two of the top four highest-paid players in this league, then they can surprise some people.

"Now, the jury's still out and I'm part of that jury. But so far, so good. Two away games, one at home, seven points."

NEXT: Saturday, March 16 at New York City FC | 7:30 pm ET (Apple TV - Free)

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

The last few months in Minnesota are chock-full of ups and downs. Twellman put it rather bluntly.

"The Loons are just flat-out Looney Tunes right now," Twellman said. "Minnesota United, you don't have a sporting director in person, in the city, even in the country yet. You hire and move on from interim coaches before the season starts like it's nothing. Then all the reports in preseason are that this is going to be a long season for Minnesota United."

But the pieces have slowly come together, with CSO Khaled El-Ahmad arriving in January and head coach Eric Ramsay taking over this week after Cameron Knowles led the squad.

Riding the momentum of a 3-2 win at Orlando City SC and an undefeated 2W-0L-1D record, the winter's disarray feels like a distant memory.

"All of this is without their best player Emanuel Reynoso," Twellman observed. "But they've got themselves a goalscorer.

"Teemu Pukki came in midway through last season. He's been a hit from the beginning. Twelve goals in his first 17 appearances in Major League Soccer. That second goal versus Orlando, that's a goalscorer's goal. So pure, quick trigger that no goalkeeper can stop."

NEXT: Saturday, March 16 vs. LAFC | 8:30 pm ET (Apple TV - Free)

Atlanta United reached another gear in Matchday 4, storming to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution.

Their star attraction? Striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, who bagged his first-ever MLS hat trick and looked like a serious Golden Boot presented by Audi contender.

"Giakoumakis in Atlanta, he looked like for the first 55 minutes or so it was going to be an off night," Twellman said. "Then 20 minutes later he's got three goals and all three of a different variety – penalty kick, the thundering header and then a wonderful left-footed strike to top off his night."

But it wasn't just the goals.

An impressive 67,727 fans come out to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Atlanta's 2024 home opener. Ever since the club joined MLS nearly a decade ago, occassions like that have become commonplace.

"This market has delivered from the beginning, and yet I've taken it for granted. I've been there for so many of these big moments," Twellman said.

" … This league hasn't been around for 30 years, yet I'm in downtown Atlanta, this is college football country and all the people are wearing what? Atlanta United gear.

NEXT: Sunday, March 17 vs. Orlando City SC | 7 pm ET (Apple TV - Free)