Toronto FC will have to make do without the services of Benoit Cheyrou for the next two months.
Coach Greg Vanney confirmed following Wednesday morning’s practice that the veteran midfielder has been ruled out for at least eight weeks with a serious calf tear.
The Frenchman suffered the injury during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home against the Colorado Rapids following a clash of legs in a tackle in the 38th minute. Cheyrou was immediately subbed out of the game.
“It’s a grade two [tear], so we’re probably looking at something in the minimum of eight weeks, because it was a fairly significant tear. Ultimately, we’ll see how it goes from there,” Vanney told reporters.
Cheyrou, 36, has appeared in 11 matches this regular season, seven as a starter, with one goal to his credit. He wore the captain’s armband during Saturday’s contest while Michael Bradley was away on national team duty at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the United States.
Bradley will be back in Toronto before the start of this weekend, and should be available for Sunday afternoon’s home game against New York City FC. The return of the TFC captain softens the blow of Cheyrou being sidelined for an extended stretch while the Reds are expected to continue to battle it out for first place in the overall MLS standings during the second half of the season.
But there’s no denying this is a big loss for the Reds, as Cheyrou provided valuable cover for Bradley.
“Obviously, we lose over that time period a guy with a lot of experience, and a guy who in a lot of situations you can call upon. … Anytime we’re missing a player with his level of experience and knowledge, you feel that,” Vanney admitted.
Without question, TFC will see their midfield depth tested over the course of the next two months while the Frenchman works his way back to full health.
“Like with everybody else, it means somebody is going to have to step up and provide us with some depth and cover in that position, and they’re going to have to be ready when called upon,” Vanney stated.
How difficult will it be for Cheyrou to come back from this injury? Time will only tell, but at age 36, you have to think it won’t be easy.
What will be interesting to see is if GM Tim Bezbatchenko stands pat and waits for Cheyrou to come back, or if he makes a move to bolster TFC’s midfield. If Bezbatchenko is planning a move, he’ll have to do it before the MLS summer transfer window closes on Aug. 9, and prior to the league’s roster freeze date (for signing out-of-contract players) on Sept. 15.
In an one-on-one chat with Sportsnet earlier this season, Cheyrou talked about how he acquired his UEFA A license following extensive classwork in his native France with other players who aspire to one day to get into coaching.
While Cheyrou was planning ahead, he maintained he wasn’t thinking about retiring.
“I only want to think about my playing career at the moment. I know that there is more behind me than in front of me, so I want to enjoy this because when you talk with former players, they all say the best part of the job was when they were on the field,” Cheyrou said. “I want to enjoy these last days, weeks, months, or whatever in front of me before I step away.”
TFC is already without starting right wingback Steven Beitashour, who is recovering after recently undergoing surgery on his pancreas. Beitashour is currently in the healing process, and Vanney said he is several weeks away from a return to training.
When Beitashour does come back, he’ll have to go through a mini-training camp, similar to what players go through in pre-season, to regain his fitness before being able to play again.
REDS TAKE A PASS ON RAUL FOR NOW
Vanney confirmed to Sportsnet that 20-year-old defender Raul is no longer on trial at TFC and has returned to his native Brazil after the MLS club decided not to sign him to a deal.
The uncertainty over Beitashour’s long-term status led to TFC recently offering a trial to Raul, who has played mostly for the reserve side of Brazilian club Gremio. He also has turned out for Brazil’s under-20 side.
Even though the Reds didn’t bring him aboard, Vanney admitted the club will continue to monitor him from afar.
“We didn’t make a short-term move on Raul. We’ll keep an eye on him and see where we go from there,” Vanney said.