Star striker Jermain Defoe is questionable for Toronto FC’s road game versus the Columbus Crew on Saturday due to a hamstring injury.
Coach Ryan Nelsen told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that Defoe was having a scan on his hamstring, and that he would wait for the results before determining whether or not the former Spurs striker will be available to play against the Crew.
Defoe was substituted out during the second half of the Reds’ 3-0 loss away to Real Salt Lake on the weekend. The hamstring problem continues to bother Defoe, putting his participation in the Columbus game in doubt.
“We’ll just have to wait for the scans to come back. Hopefully it’s clear,” Nelsen said.
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The potential loss of Defoe, 31, would be a big blow for TFC. The Englishman has scored all three of the Reds’ goals through the first three games of the Major League Soccer season. If Defoe is ruled out, look for Dwayne De Rosario to take his place in the starting lineup up front alongside Brazilian Gilberto.
Another player who is also questionable for the Columbus trip is Canadian Jonathan Osorio. The Influential midfielder did not travel to Salt Lake because of a hamstring strain suffered in practice late last week. Osorio could miss a few weeks of action, Nelsen confirmed after the Salt Lake game.
Neither Defoe nor Osorio trained with TFC on Tuesday.
Nelsen has other concerns ahead of the Columbus contest, with Doneil Henry nursing a knee problem (he didn’t train on Tuesday) and fellow central defender Steven Caldwell possibly facing a suspension from MLS for his crunching tackle on Salt Lake’s Ned Grabavoy. Caldwell was issued a yellow card on the play.
Starting goalkeeper Julio Cesar hurt his knee in the Salt Lake game, and didn’t train with the team on Tuesday. But the Brazilian is expected to play on Saturday.
Caldwell said he made an honest attempt to win the ball and doesn’t feel he should be suspended further by the league.
“I’ve never been a dirty player, I’ve never had any problems with discipline in my career,” Caldwell said. “I’ve been sent off a few times but it’s usually through endeavour and maybe last-man tackles.
“I’ve seen it and it doesn’t look good. But I went in to win the ball. My foot was low. It was definitely a booking. I take my booking, I accept my punishment. But I just see it as a guy going in trying to win the ball.”
Toronto midfielder Jackson has already been punished by MLS, receiving a one-game suspension and undisclosed fine for an elbow thrown against D.C. United’s Davy Arnaud in a game on March 22. United. Jackson received a yellow card on the play.
Nelsen fears that every foul on field could be reviewed by the league if things are taken to the extreme.
“When they start jumping in on the referees, it kind of undermines them a wee bit and kind of sets a precedent. Because then when do they stop?” Nelsen said.
TFC opened the season with a road win over the Seattle Sounders and a victory in their home opener versus D.C. United before losing in Utah.