CCL: Toronto trio in doubt as impossible task gets harder

Richard Eckersley and Paul Mariner

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TORONTO – Even at full strength, the task would be daunting for Toronto FC.

But the Reds figure to be anything but on Wednesday when they play what could be their final match in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League at Santos Laguna (8 pm ET, Sportsnet One in Canada, Fox Soccer in US).

Defenders Logan Emory and Darren O’Dea and striker Eric Hassli are all in doubt for the game at Estadio Corona in Torreón, Mexico, and there was no official word on Monday as to their availability.

The last time the Reds played in Torreón, they lost 6-2 in the second leg of the of the 2011-12 CCL semifinals in April. They lost that tie 7-3 on aggregate.

This time, it’s the final game of the CCL group stage for both teams, and the Reds need to win by more than two goals to have a chance to advance.  

Toronto have been depleted by injuries this season, the latest coming when Emory left Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Montreal Impact with a shoulder injury, a lingering problem for him.

Head coach Paul Mariner said Emory already was scheduled to have shoulder stabilization surgery at the end of the season.

“He’s probably done [for the season],” Mariner said after Saturday’s game. “He was playing with that most of the season.”

Emory was starting for O’Dea, who returned from World Cup qualifying duty with the Republic of Ireland with a thigh injury and did not play Saturday. He could be out for the final week of the season.

And while Hassli returned Saturday after missing a month with a sprained ankle, he might not make the trip to Mexico because his wife was expected to give birth on Monday.

“We’ll just take a deep breath and assess it,” Mariner said.

The good news is that Ryan Johnson will be eligible to return after missing Saturday’s game because of a suspension for yellow-card accumulation. His absence and injuries to others left Toronto short on experience on Saturday.

“I was reflecting before the game,” Mariner said. “If you really look at it, we had eight guys on the field who really would be backups. So I took a little bit of heart from that.”

For many TFC players, Mariner said it has been learning on the job.

“Luis [Silva] is in his rookie season, Aaron [Maund], you can just go through the team, they’re learning on the job,” Mariner said. “Ashtone Morgan played [Saturday] with a terrible chest cold, he was out for ages and he played through it.”

With one week left in the season, Mariner is looking forward to next year.

“I can't wait until Jan. 19 when we get together [for training camp],” he said.