Veteran Drew Moor close to returning for TFC from injury layoff

TFC's Drew Moor. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TORONTO – A familiar face could be back in the line-up very soon for Toronto FC.

Coach Greg Vanney confirmed Drew Moor has returned to full training with the team, and that the veteran defender could see action in Sunday evening’s MLS home game against New York City FC.

Moor, a 34-year-old native of Dallas, has been sideline since April when he suffered a quad tear. He was on the road to recovery and close to coming back last month, but then had a setback with a calf injury that stunted his progress.

“He’s getting his way back. He’s been in full [practice] sessions this week, so hopefully he’ll be in contention for some minutes [vs. NYCFC]. I’m not quite sure how long just yet, but we’ll see. Hopefully he gets back into the mix this week,” Vanney said.

Toronto has certainly felt his absence. Moor has been one of the team’s most consistent and reliable defenders since signing with the Reds as a free agent prior to the 2016 MLS season. He has been limited to just three MLS appearances in 2018, and not-so-coincidentally, TFC has coughed up 41 goals, one of the worst defensive records in the league.

Moor is one of the most experienced players in MLS history, having played in 364 regular-season matches and 23 playoff games since making his debut for FC Dallas in 2005.

“Of all of our centre backs, he’s the one that is the most vocal in terms of communication, leadership, [relaying] information to guys around him. In terms of leading the line, he’s the guy with the most experience, and the most comfort level of being outside of himself and getting everybody on the same page and working together as a group,” Vanney said.

Moor has never been out of commission for this long due to injury or health issues, and he told Sportsnet last week that he found this experience to be both mentally and physically challenging.

“I’ve been very fortunate over the course of my career in taking good care of myself, and not having had to miss a lot of time due to injuries. To miss the bulk of this season, and feeling like you can help your team out and wanting to help it out in every way possible, it’s tough. When I think about how some guys who have dealt with injuries year in and year out, I makes you not want to take your health for granted,” Moor said.

MAVINGA OUT FOR TWO GAMES

Vanney confirmed that defender Chris Mavinga has been hit with a one-match ban from the league’s disciplinary committee for his part in an end-of-game fracas in last weekend’s 2-2 road draw with Atlanta United FC.

Mavinga was issued a red card – which carries with it an automatic one-game suspension – for shoving Atlanta’s Leandro González Pírez in the face as the referee tried to separate the two players.

Mavinga was already going to miss Sunday’s game against NYCFC, but this extra one-match ban means he’ll also be unavailable for next week’s road contest versus the San Jose Earthquakes.

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AURO JR. DOUBTFUL FOR SUNDAY

Vanney revealed that Auro Jr. is doubtful for Sunday’s game after he suffered a hamstring injury during the second half of Wednesday’s Canadian Championship final first leg match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, a match that ended 2-2.

Vanney said the Brazilian fullback will undergo tests later on Friday to determine the extent of the issue, and that it’s unlikely he’ll play on Sunday.

Auro had only returned from a lengthy injury layoff on Aug. 4 in an MLS road contest against Atlanta United FC. The Vancouver contest was his second game back. He left the match in the 64th minute, but not before assisting on Sebastian Giovinco’s opening goal for TFC.

Signed on loan from Brazilian club Sao Paulo during the off-season, Auro has been one of Toronto’s most consistent and reliable players this season both in MLS and during the team’s run to the CONCACAF Champions League final. In total, the Brazilian has played in 14 MLS games (12 as a starter), and has tallied three assists.

JANSON NOT WITH THE TEAM YET

Toronto bolstered its depth at forward earlier this week by acquiring Argentine Lucas Janson in a loan deal.

Janson, 23, joins TFC from Tigre of Argentina’s first division, and he will be added to the MLS club’s roster upon receipt of his international transfer certificate and his Canadian work permit.

Over the previous six seasons at Tigre, Janson scored 10 goals and tallied 10 assists in 82 league appearances. A product of Tigre’s under-20 team, he eventually graduated to the senior team and was a member of the side that finished runners-up in the 2012 Copa Sudamericana club tournament.

Janson isn’t in town yet – he’s expected to arrive sometime next week – but Vanney is excited about his latest roster addition, describing the Argentine as a “scrappy competitor.”

“What excites us about him is he’s an attacking player who is direct, he’s dynamic, he’s looking to get in behind [defence], he’ll take people on. He adds a little bit of a different element sometimes coming from a wide position,” Vanney stated.

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