TFC's Frings returns for "last chance for the playoffs"
TORONTO – Torsten Frings is back in business for Toronto FC, and he’s not mincing words about what’s at stake now that he’s finally able to help dig the Reds out of their rut.
After missing more than a month with hamstring injury, the former German international assured reporters on Friday he’ll play against the visiting Chicago Fire on Saturday (3:30 pm ET, NBC Sports) and promptly threw down the gauntlet on his club.
“Now tomorrow we need the points. It’s very important for us,” he said. “This may be the last chance for the playoffs.”
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That might be a bit of hyperbole, but there’s no doubt the Reds are in some serious trouble early in the season. After last weekend’s 1-0 loss at home to Chivas USA, TFC are winless in their first five games this season and the only club left in MLS to not register a single point.
Their minus-8 goal differential is also the worst in the league, and they’ve scored a league-low two goals.
Frings might not be able to help as much on the offensive end, but he’ll almost certainly stop the bleeding on defense. He told the media Friday that while he prefers to play midfield, these days he’s needed more on the backline.
“I’m a midfield player, but I think it’s what is important for the team,” he said. “I think in this moment, in my opinion, it’s better I play on the back line. We [allowed] too many goals in the last games and we have to keep the zero. It’s very important. If you keep the zero then you can win the games and get some points.”
Head coach Aron Winter wouldn’t divulge where exactly Frings will play, but he did offer the news that TFC have been longing to hear since their captain went down in the season opener on March 17: “He’s going to start-- that’s important.”
While the Reds still have other injury issues – Danny Koevermans (groin) and Nick Soolsma (hamstring) are both unlikely to play – the news surrounding Frings’ return is almost enough to offer reason to believe.
“In those games we have lost, definitely we have missed [Frings] a lot,” Winter said. “And it’s not only about his soccer qualities, but his leadership. I think in the stage where we are now you need those qualities, somebody who translates everything from the bench on the pitch and takes care of the things on the pitch.”
The Reds have lost two of their last eight league games with Frings in the lineup, dating back to last Aug. 27.
“He’s a big leader and a big important role model on our team,” forward Reggie Lambe said. “I think having him back will boost the confidence.”