Look at it this way: It could have been much worse.
Toronto FC confirmed Monday that star striker Jermain Defoe will be sidelined for two to three weeks with a groin strain.
Defoe, 31, sat out Saturday’s 2-0 road win in Montreal after carrying around the injury for the past few games, coach Ryan Nelsen confirmed after the match. The Englishman on Sunday underwent medical scans that revealed the extent of the injury.
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TFC fans have been holding their collective breath ever since Saturday when he wasn’t in the starting lineup against Montreal, imagining the worst, which included a lengthy absence due to a serious injury.
Even before having the scan, Defoe had been ruled out for this Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game in Portland against German league champions Bayern Munich. He’s expected to miss TFC’s next two games—Aug. 9 in Columbus and Aug. 16 in Kansas City, both on the road. After that, Toronto hosts Chicago on Aug. 23 and New England on Aug. 30. It’s not known whether he’ll be back for either of those home games.
The loss of Defoe, even for a relatively short period of time, is a big blow for a Toronto side currently sitting third in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, and that is involved in a bit of a dogfight with a trailing pack clubs over a playoff spot.
Defoe leads Toronto in scoring this season with 11 goals in 15 MLS appearances. To put that number into contest, Toronto’s second-leading scorer is Luke Moore, with four goals. In total, Defoe has accounted for 38 per cent of TFC’s 29 goals this season.
His absence leaves the Reds a bit light up top, with Moore and Gilberto the only other forwards getting regular playing time this year. Bright Dike is recovering from off-season knee surgery and still several weeks away from returning, so Toronto’s only forward options off the bench are Dwayne De Rosario and Andrew Wiedeman, who haven’t scored a single goal in a combined 14 league appearances in 2014.
Toronto is also missing captain and defender Steven Caldwell (quad tear) and right back Mark Bloom (MCL strain) due to long-term injuries.