Toronto FC is still not out of the woods when it comes to its ongoing injury problems.
Coach Ryan Nelsen told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that a number of injured players are questionable for Saturday’s home game against the Colorado Rapids, including star striker Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley.
Defoe picked up a hamstring injury in the second half of the Reds’ third match of the Major League Soccer season, a 3-0 road loss to Real Salt Lake on March 29. He scored all three of Toronto’s goals in its first two games, wins over Seattle Sounders and the home opener versus D.C. United.
“We’ll see,” Nelsen answered when asked if Defoe will return this weekend. “He’s still progressing really well … Hopefully he’ll be close.”
Bradley scored the opening goal in Toronto’s 2-0 road win over the Columbus Crew this past Saturday. Nelsen said the American midfielder is dealing with “a couple of little strains.” Neither Defoe nor Bradley trained with the team on Tuesday.
Nelsen confirmed other players carrying injuries or knocks include Kyle Bekker, Jonathan Osorio, Doneil Henry, Dwayne De Rosario and Alvaro Rey.
"Just name the healthy (guys). It's a lot quicker," Nelsen joked after practice.
While Nelsen said it’s still early in the week and that some of the walking wounded are making progress, TFC’s coach admitted he could be without several players for Saturday’s contest against Colorado.
"There's a chance that quite a few might miss (the game)," Nelsen stated.
Nelsen was without four key starters in Saturday’s win in Columbus: Defoe, defenders Steven Caldwell (suspension) and Henry (knee injury), and Osorio (hamstring). Caldwell will be available to play against Colorado after serving his suspension.
Henry told Sportsnet that his knee feels much better but that he doesn’t expect to play on Saturday.
One of the reasons behind TFC’s injury woes, according to Nelsen, is that the team has had to practise on artificial turf under a bubble at their training centre. With the cold weather almost gone, Nelsen said he hope to be training back on grass by the end of the week.
“We've learned a lot of lessons over this, the staff. In hindsight, would we do some things differently? I definitely would,” Nelsen admitted.
"As management, we've got to hold our hands up. Some of the injuries are just the life of a football professional, and you can't do much about it. But we have learned a lot through this. Hopefully once we get out on the grass it will be a lot easier for the guys.”
With three wins and nine points from its first four games of the campaign, Toronto FC is in second place in the Eastern Conference and is off to its best start in franchise history. Colorado currently sits fourth in the Western Conference with seven points and a 2-1-1 record.
TFC is 7-4-1 all-time against the Rapids but Colorado won the last encounter, 1-0 on May 4, 2013 at home.
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