Major League Soccer is taking a hiatus this week as the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup continues to unfold, but Toronto FC was back in training today at their training facility in Downsview.
Here are some news and notes from Tuesday’s practice.
NO TIMELINE FOR BEITASHOUR’S RETURN
Right fullback Steven Beitashour was recently released from the hospital, and he remains on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on an injured pancreas. Beitashour suffered the blow in a collision with Montreal Impact defender Kyle Fisher in the Canadian Championship final on June 27, and he missed the Reds’ next two MLS games.
Coach Greg Vanney explained that Beitashour is feeling much better and is on the road to recovery. But he couldn’t say when the veteran defender might return to action.
“We’re still in this window of time, the first three weeks where they monitor a lot of things, and he’s getting close to that. Once he comes out of that time period, we’ll have a good sense of his return-to-play timeline,” Vanney said.
“Right now they’re just making sure that everything from a healing standpoint takes place.”
Vanney revealed he hopes to have a better idea in the next week or so as to when Beitashour would be able to come back.
Beitashour, 30, has been a mainstay for TFC ever since coming over in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps prior to the 2016 season, starting in 42 regular-season games and six playoff matches.
A CHANCE OF ALSETH
In the meantime, Vanney could lean upon rookie Oyvind Alseth, who started the last two games in place of Beitashour.
Alseth made his league debut in last Saturday’s loss in Dallas, playing as a right wingback before being subbed out after 74 minutes. Four days later in TFC’s victory in Orlando, the 22-year-old Norwegian played a full 90 minutes, this time as a right fullback in a four-man defence.
“The question is can he do the best versions of himself when it’s in front of a crowd on a Saturday night and there’s meaningful points on the line? You only know those things when you put guys out there and you give them a chance in that setting,” Vanney stated.
“In terms of his ability as a player, we all know what Oyvind is capable of doing. It’s now just translating that in the moment.”
HAGGLUND ON THE MEND
Nick Hagglund is still recovering from a torn MCL. The young defender has been out since mid-May, but was training on his own Tuesday.
He continues to make solid progress, with Vanney estimating he could return to full training in seven to 14 days.
“From a healing standpoint, he’s there. But now it’s a toleration standpoint, that final step left,” Vanney said. “It’s just a matter of how quickly he can recover. It’s different for everybody.”
Vanney stated that the team has no other major injury concerns at this time.
BRAZILIAN DEFENDER RAUL ON TRIAL
The uncertainty over Beitashour’s long-term status led to TFC offering a trial to Raul, a 20-year-old defender with Brazilian club Gremio.
The youngster has played mostly for Gremio’s reserve team, and he also turned out for Brazil’s under-20 side. Vanney said that the club had been tracking Raul for some time, and that it made sense to bring him in on trial with Beitashour’s return date still up in the air.
Raul arrived in town on Sunday, and trained with TFC for the first time on Tuesday. If the trial is successful, Toronto is expected to sign him to a loan deal. MLS club have until the roster freeze date of Sept. 15 to make player additions.
“He plays [right wingback] and he plays it how we like. He has an attacking-minded mentality, but he understands his defensive responsibilities,” Vanney stated.
He later added: “We’ll take our time this week and take a deeper look, and get to know him as a person and see how he’ll fit in. Should we want to make a move I think everything is in place.”
PLAYERS STILL AWAY AT GOLD CUP
A number of TFC players are with their national teams at the Gold Cup which runs until July 26, including Canadians Tosaint Ricketts, Jonathan Osorio and Raheem Edwards, as well as Armando Cooper (Panama) and Justin Morrow (the United States).
The group stage of the tournament ends later this week, which means if Canada, Panama or the U.S. is eliminated, those players will return in time for TFC’s next game on July 19. If any of those nations advance, TFC’s players are expected to stay with their respective national teams.
It’s also important to remember that teams that qualify for the knockout round of the Gold Cup are allowed to swap six new players into their rosters. So, potentially, TFC could lose captain Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore if the U.S. makes it out of its group, and American coach Bruce Arena decides to recall them.
“If Canada do get into the next round, then we’ll miss those guys for a little bit longer, but we’ll deal with that as it comes,” Vanney said.
“With the U.S., as they get closer to [the point where] they can swap and add players to their roster then we’ll know whether we lose Jozy and Michael. We have an indication of where we’re at with that, but ultimately they have to make a final decision and go from there.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO NYCFC
Toronto returns to action on July 19 when they travel to the Bronx to take on New York City FC.
The game marks the Reds’ return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since earning a 5-0 win over NYCFC in the second leg of the last season’s Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“We’ll spend the next two to three days [in training] emphasizing things that we want to clean up coming off the first half of the season, some things we want to progress at and get a little sharper at. Come the weekend, we’ll start to looking at our game-plan as we approach the New York game,” Vanney offered.
After the visit to New York, TFC will host the Colorado Rapids on July 22 and NYFC on July 30.