TORONTO – Steven Caldwell is expected to miss several weeks of action for Toronto FC due to a quad tear.
TFC’s captain suffered the injury in the second half of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the visiting Houston Dynamo. Caldwell left the game in the 69th minute after colliding with a Houston player.
Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen confirmed that the 33-year-old Caldwell was scheduled to undergo a scan on Tuesday evening to determine the extent of the injury—but Nelsen isn’t too optimistic.
“He’ll (likely be out) several weeks,” Nelsen told reporters after Tuesday’s practice.
Caldwell didn’t train with TFC on Tuesday and wasn’t made available to speak to the media ahead of the team’s home game versus the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
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With Caldwell out for the unforeseeable future, veteran Bradley Orr is expected to see more action. He’ll likely be partnered with one of either Doneil Henry or rookie Nick Hagglund in the centre of defence. Hagglund sat out the last game due to suspension, while Henry had a strong outing against Houston.
Nelsen, though, said he’d be comfortable going with any permutation of the three centre-backs—even playing the two youngsters Henry and Hagglund together.
“100 percent. Nick has done so well, Doneil has done so well. Bradley Orr, when asked, has done brilliantly,” Nelsen says. “It’s really hard to pick the guys (to start).”
Orr, 31, has made 13 appearances this season (eight as a starter), and has been mostly called upon when one his teammates has been injured. A right back by trade, he’s been asked to play a number of positions for TFC, including in the centre of midfield as a defensive stopper.
To his credit, Orr has handled the various playing assignments handed to him by Nelsen with a great deal of professionalism.
“It’s a challenge. This league throws up so many changes … It’s just a challenge whenever you get called upon. I like a challenge. Personally, I like to test myself,” Orr said.
“I’ve never been blessed with the talent to say ‘I want to play there.’ I just do what as I’m told, and I play where I’m asked.”
The injury to Caldwell couldn’t have come at a worse time for TFC.
The Reds are scheduled to play eight games over the next month: seven league matches and a friendly versus English Premier League outfit Tottenham next Wednesday. It’s a critical period in the campaign for Toronto, who sit third in the Eastern Conference standings with 24 points. TFC has three games in hand and a four-point lead over sixth-place Columbus Crew. The top five teams in the East make the playoffs.
With so many games in such a short span, Nelsen will be force to rotate his squad. Hagglund believes the team has enough roster depth to deal with the upcoming slew of matches.
“It’s huge, especially during this time of the season when you have three games a week; you can’t put out [the same] starting 11 for all 34 games of the season. Having depth is massively important and we’ve shown that we have people who can step in,” Hagglund said.
Nelsen explained that the team anticipated this gruelling stretch by strengthening its bench and bringing in players of the calibre of Collen Warner, who was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Impact back in May.
“When we put a squad together we have to think about the worst-case scenario, not just the best-case scenario,” TFC’s coach said.
Nelsen also hinted that the team could soon be adding to its roster.
“We’re still in a position that we wanted to be in. At this time of the year we wanted to have the ability to strengthen the squad if [needed]. We’ve got salary cap [space], we’ve got the [top] allocation spot,” Nelsen says.
More good news for Toronto is that influential midfielder Michael Bradley, who didn’t dress for the Houston game due to a series of niggling injuries, trained with the team Tuesday and could be available for selection against the Whitecaps.