TORONTO – You may have to wait a little bit longer to see Steven Caldwell take to the field for Toronto FC.
Coach Greg Vanney confirmed Tuesday that Caldwell and fellow centre back Damien Perquis, both dealing with niggling calf problems, are questionable for this Saturday’s road game against the Chicago Fire.
The veteran pair sat out the Reds’ 2-1 loss Real Salt Lake this past weekend. Perquis travelled with the team and Vanney was hopeful he could see action on Sunday. But after further assessment upon arrival in Utah, TFC’s coach changed his mind, and felt the Frenchman wasn’t ready and he didn’t want to risk compounding Perquis’ injury woes by playing him against Real Salt Lake.
With TFC having a bye after this Saturday’s contest in Chicago, Vanney insists he won’t rush Caldwell and Perquis back into the starting line-up until they are ready—although Vanney did admit they are pushing Perquis a little bit more in his recovery regime this week to see if he can play vs the Fire.
“We’ll make a decision come Thursday or Friday (about Perquis),” Vanney stated.
Caldwell, 34, came out at halftime of the Reds’ 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on March 14 when he complained of calf and Achilles tightness. TFC were on a bye the following week, and the hope was that the extra time off would give Caldwell enough time to recover for Sunday’s match away to Real Salt Lake.
But the Scottish defender wasn’t cleared to play. Now he’s at risk for missing Saturday’s tilt in Illinois.
The veteran’s continued absences should be a cause of concern for TFC. Caldwell missed 13 games during the 2014 campaign—11 through injury, and two because of suspension. With Caldwell having already missed time this season, questions are rightly be asked about his durability, his ability to overcome injuries and just how many games Toronto can expect him to play in 2015.
Vanney, though, downplayed suggestions from this reporter that he might not be able to rely on Caldwell long-term this season.
“For us, we plan as though we aren’t going to have him until we do have him, until we know for certain. (In the meantime) we bring other guys along and we see what everybody has. When Stevie gets healthy then he’ll have to work himself back into the line-up,” Vanney said.
One of the players Vanney will likely turn to in Caldwell’s absences is Clement Simonin, the rookie centre back the team drafted out of NC State in January. Simonin started the year with TFC’s USL side and was signed to the senior team late last week. Simonin made his MLS debut in the loss to Salt Lake, and Vanney thought the young Frenchman acquitted himself well.
“As he settled into that game you could see some of the things he could do, with his ability to open up the field with his passing. He’s very comfortable stepping into the midfield with the ball,” Vanney stated.
“I thought he also defended well. He was good in the air in his aerial challenges. I thought he made, by and large, good decisions for most of the match defensively.”
Some good news for TFC on the injury front is that right fullback Mark Bloom and centre back Eriq Zavaleta are on the mend and Vanney said both are “borderline questionable/probable” for selection on Saturday in Chicago. Both players missed the Real Salt Lake game because of injuries.