Toronto FC depth to be tested some more in wake of Giovinco, Hagglund injuries
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Toronto FC's depth, which has helped Greg Vanney's team to a franchise-record six wins in a row, is about to get tested some more.
After a hectic stretch of five games in 15 days, Toronto (7-1-4) was looking forward to a quiet week before Friday's game at the New York Red Bulls. But things got more complicated for league-leading TFC on Monday with unwanted injury news about striker Sebastian Giovinco and defender Nick Hagglund.
Giovinco has been diagnosed with a quad strain and is expected to be out for up to three weeks.
The news is worse for Hagglund, who has a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks.
Both were forced to leave Saturday's 3-2 victory over Minnesota United.
Giovinco is tied with Jozy Altidore for the team lead in goals with six. Hagglund has been a major part of Toronto's back three, especially in the absence of injured veteran Drew Moor.
On the plus side, Vanney has some ready replacements.
Forward Tosaint Ricketts has scored three times in the last two matches, including both game-winning goals. Moor, who has been out since mid-April due to a irregular heartbeat, is back training. And veteran Jason Hernandez, subbed out at halftime Saturday due to a bout of food poisoning, has been steady when needed.
Vanney has dipped deep in his roster during the recent busy spell, using 19 players during the current win streak.
"I think we have an incredibly deep team with players capable of starting on a lot of teams around this league that don't always get to start for us every weekend," Vanney said after the Minnesota game.
On Saturday, he had five of his starters from the 2016 MLS Cup final on the bench as well as Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez, who leads the league in assists.
Toronto is just the third MLS team since 2007 to post a regular-season win streak of six or more games.
According to the league, Sporting Kansas City won seven games — over 39 days — to open the 2012 season and New England won six straight (over 46 days) in 2015.
Toronto, which notched its six wins in just 22 days, faces another busy stretch with the Red Bulls game the start of another five-game 15-day run.
Captain Michael Bradley, who has played every minute this season, has called on the league to improve its scheduling. He declined to link the crammed calendar to Saturday's injuries but said improvements are needed if the league wants to show off the best possible product on the field.
Giovinco scored Toronto's first goal Saturday in the 20th minute from the penalty spot. But he came off in the 44th minute, complaining of tightness in his quad. He soon had an icepack attached to his left thigh.
It's the latest of a string of minor injuries for the 30-year-old Italian star over the first 12 games of the season.
He had missed the two games prior to Saturday with a heel contusion suffered May 3 against Orlando. He also missed a March game in Vancouver after his right thigh was injured in a hard tackle by Philadelphia defender Oguchi Onyewu the previous match,
Hagglund was hurt in the 57th minute Saturday when six-foot-three, 195-pound goalkeeper Alex Bono inadvertently crashed into his knee going after a low Minnesota cross.
The 24-year-old defender immediately went down clutching his left knee, his face contorted in pain. He tried to keep going but his movement was limited. Three minutes later, after heading a ball out for a corner, he went down again and hobbled off the field for good in the 60th minute.
Things got somewhat chaotic after that with Toronto down to 10 men. The corner conceded by Hagglund led to another corner, thanks to an Armando Cooper miscue. That led to a 62nd-minute penalty after Toronto wingback Raheem Edwards was called for handball.
Minnesota scored to tie the game at 2-2, prompting Vanney to change his choice of substitution. He pulled back defender Justin Morrow in favour of Vazquez, who eventually made it on the field in the 65th minute.
Toronto scored the go-head goal in the 77th minute via Ricketts' header.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter