TFC notebook: van der Wiel questionable for 2nd leg vs. Rapids


Toronto FC's new signing Gregory van der Wiel poses for a photo with a TFC shirt alongside head coach Greg Vanney (right) and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko following a news conference in Toronto on Monday, February 5, 2018. (Chris Young/CP)

Toronto FC was back in training on Saturday ahead of its second-leg match against the Colorado Rapids in the CONCACAF Champions League next week.

Here are some news and notes from the day’s practice.

Van der Wiel questionable for second leg

Gregory van der Wiel could have to wait a little bit longer to make his competitive debut for TFC.

The Dutch right fullback didn’t travel with the team to Colorado for the Reds’ 2-0 win on Tuesday in the opener of their Round of 16 series. He was allowed to stay in Toronto to be with his pregnant wife who is due to deliver the couple’s first child.

Van der Wiel did not train with the team on Saturday, and whether he plays on Tuesday will depend on when his wife gives birth.

"We’re on the baby wait. Today may or may not be the day. We’ll see. We’re hoping for he and Rose [his wife] that someday soon that they’ll have baby girl and start that off. We’re in limbo right now, as he is, until that happens," coach Greg Vanney confirmed.

"We’re going day to day with him. … We’ll see where he is tomorrow and the next day, and how he settles in. We’ve got a lot of games coming up, and for me it’s important that emotionally he’s ready to go and his focus is on us when he’s with us, and her and the family when he’s with them."

Of note, van der Wiel on Saturday afternoon posted on his Instagram account a photo of himself sitting in what appears to be a hospital room with the comments, "Today is the day."

Van der Wiel joined the team earlier this month after TFC reached a transfer agreement with Italian club Cagliari.

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Mavinga back for TFC

Central defender Chris Mavinga, who missed the first leg with an abdominal injury, has been in full training the past few days and fully fit.

Vanney confirmed that he’ll be available to play Tuesday night at BMO Field.

Odds and ends

Spanish midfielder Ager Aketxe, who officially signed with TFC on Friday, will be available to play against Colorado in the second leg, provided he receives his International Transfer Certificate before then. Vanney said he expects Aketxe’s ITC to come through by Monday or Tuesday, and he hinted at using the Spaniard in the second leg… Canadian forward Tosaint Ricketts is on the mend and back in full training. He’s missed most of the team’s pre-season training camp due to a thyroid issue…

If TFC finishes off the Rapids

Should Toronto advance past Colorado, it would face the winner of the Round of 16 series between Mexico’s Tigres and Herediano of Costa Rica. Tigres earned a 2-2 road draw this past week in the first leg.

The Reds last competed in the Champions League in 2012-13 when they bowed out in the group stage. Toronto’s best showing was the year before when it reached the semifinals under Dutch manager Aron Winter.

Kickoff of regular season

After Tuesday’s Champions League match, Toronto will have a short turnaround to get ready for the start of the MLS season.

For the first time in franchise history, TFC will begin the MLS campaign at home when they host the Columbus Crew in their season opener on March 3.

The Reds then enjoy a bye week and travel to Montreal to take on the Impact on March 17 in Week 3. Back-to-back home games against Real Salt Lake and D.C. United follow their trip to Montreal.


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