Four games in 12 days – including a two-legged affair in the CONCACAF Champions League final – across three countries.
That’s the daunting task facing Toronto FC, starting with Saturday’s MLS road game against the Colorado Rapids. After that, the Reds return home to host Club Deportivo Guadalajara of Mexico’s Liga MX next Tuesday in the first leg of the CONCACAF championship series. Then it’s another MLS road game against the Houston Dynamo on April 21, followed by the second leg of the CONCACAF final in Guadalajara on April 25.
TFC tried to get the Houston match postponed in order to have more time to prepare for the second leg in Mexico, but club president Bill Manning confirmed to mlssoccer.com that the contest will go on as scheduled. This gruelling stretch of the schedule, with an average of one match every three days, poses the stiffest test of TFC’s vaunted roster depth to date, especially with a number of key players dealing with injuries.
“It’s been a difficult start to the season on guys physically, especially these little things because we’ve played on multiple different surfaces between hard surfaces, turf surfaces, soft surfaces like [BMO Field] right now. It’s just our guys are taking a little bit of a bump and grind,” coach Greg Vanney said during a conference call with reporters.
Influential midfielder Victor Vazquez continues to deal with a nerve issue in his back, a problem that has sidelined him for the past two MLS games, as well as both legs of the CONCACAF semifinals against Club America. The Spaniard won’t play in Colorado, and his status for next week’s game against Guadalajara remains uncertain
“It needs a little time to settle down. There’s a typical window of time and we’re right on the edge of it. So, we’re not quite sure where Victor will be coming into Tuesday. It’s precarious because it’s a nerve thing,” Vanney admitted.
Nick Hagglund remains out with a long-term hamstring strain. Forward Jozy Altidore (foot), defenders Chris Mavinga (lower body) and Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles), and fullback Justin Morrow (calf) are also dealing with injuries, with both Mavinga and Morrow having been sidelined for several weeks. All four players are trending in the right direction, though, and Vanney is optimistic they’ll be available for the first leg versus the Mexican side.
But don’t expect any of them to play …read more