Toronto FC omits Italian star Federico Bernardeschi for Saturday's game

Bob Bradley said he made a “coach’s decision” not to dress Italian star Federico Bernardeschi for Toronto FC's MLS match against D.C. United.

The move, based "on internal discussions," according to Bradley, follows remarks Bernardeschi made after a 1-0 stoppage-time loss at Austin FC.

Among other things, Bernardeschi said "we need an idea of how we play" and "it's impossible to play like this when we play without [an] idea."
Bradley later told the Canadian Press that the Italian star "was wrong for speaking that way after the game" and he made clear to his player "that that was out of line."

Bradley said on Friday during a media conference he talked with Bernardeschi about the decision not to dress him this week.

"I think we are on the same page," he said.

Friday's decision follows an explosive article in The Athletic about Toronto FC's "fractured culture." It detailed the conflict between the team's two second-year Italian stars, Lorenzo Insigne and Bernardeschi, and Bradley, the clash of egos between Insigne and Bernardeschi, and Bernardeschi's problems with Michael Bradley, Bob's son and longtime team captain.

Toronto FC has the highest payroll in MLS but is fourth from the bottom in the overall standings with a 2-5-7 record and no goals scored in the last four MLS games.

Insigne set a MLS record with his 2022 $14 million salary when he joined Toronto FC from Napoli. Bernardeschi has the fourth-highest MLS salary in 2023.

Insigne (below) and Bernardeschi, both European champions with Italy in 2021, have a combined four goals and two assists in 2023. They combined for 14 goals and four assists in 2022 when Toronto FC finished with a 9-18-7 record in 13th place (out of 14 teams) in MLS's Eastern Conference. It was Bob Bradley's first season with the Reds.

"When I came here," the veteran coach said on Friday, "I understood there was a lot of work to do. And things have taken longer than any of us would have liked."

Bernardeschi Photo: Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos

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