TORONTO – It was a double shot of bad news for Toronto FC on Monday, as the MLS club announced that star forward Sebastian Giovinco and defender Nick Hagglund will be ruled out for several weeks due to injuries.
Hagglund has been diagnosed with a torn MCL in his left knee, and is expected to miss the next two to three months. Giovinco is dealing with a quad strain that should sideline him for up to three weeks.
Giovinco was subbed out of Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Minnesota United FC just before halftime after opening the scoring for the Reds from the penalty spot. He missed Toronto’s previous two games with a heel injury. If there’s a bright side to this quad strain, it’s that the time off should give Giovinco time to fully heal his heel.
Giovinco has six goals (tied for the club lead with Jozy Altidore) and one assist in nine appearances for Toronto this season. In the past, a prolonged absence by the Italian such as this would have been detrimental to TFC. But Canadian forward Tosaint Ricketts has stepped up with three goals in the Reds’ last two games, and Toronto has enough depth at the forward position that they should be able to make do without Giovinco for the next three weeks.
Should he return on schedule, Giovinco could be back in the Reds’ lineup versus the New England Revolution on June 3.
Hagglund collided with Alex Bono in the 57th minute on Saturday as the TFC goalkeeper dove to claim a cross, clattering into his defender. Hagglund tried to overcome the injury, but he was back down minutes later and was subbed out.
The young defender has played in all 12 games this season, 11 as a starter, totalling 989 minutes of playing time – only captain Michael Bradley (1080 minutes) has appeared more for TFC.
The good news is that veteran defender Drew Moor will be ready to play against New York on Friday. Moor, 32, has missed the last seven games due to an irregular heartbeat. His last appearance came on April 8.
Still, Hagglund has enjoyed somewhat of a breakout season in 2017, and has looked especially sharp and poised in the centre of TFC’s three-man defence while Moor has been recuperating.
“He’s such an important guy for us,” Bradley said after the Minnesota win. “Obviously, he and I came here at the same time - he was drafted not long after I got here, and on top of being a good friend of mine, he gives our group so much in terms of his competitiveness, his versatility to play different spots in the back.
“He’s such a good teammate and when you talk about guys who know what it means to compete, guys who are winners, Nick checks every one of those boxes. He’s still a relatively young player on a team with some other big players - it’s not that he’s always the first one to get attention, but he doesn’t care.
“He comes in every day ready to train, ready to work, ready to compete, and when he’s called on he never lets us down.”
If nothing else, TFC has demonstrated this season that it has great depth, and that it can win games even without key starters. The Reds will have to continue to show that as their star forward and one of their top defenders are out injured.
“I think we have an incredibly deep side with guys who are capable of starting on a lot of teams around this league that don’t always get to start for us. … We have a good team that can win on any day regardless of who I put out there,” coach Greg Vanney claimed after the Minnesota game.
Vanney also confirmed Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio had to come out of the Columbus match last Wednesday due to an irregular heartbeat. The team is waiting to hear from doctors regarding a diagnosis on the Canadian midfielder.
Toronto FC is currently riding a franchise-best six-game winning streak, and sits atop the overall MLS standings with a 7-1-4 record and 25 points. TFC’s next contest is Friday’s road game against the New York Red Bulls.