TORONTO — This has been a roller-coaster season for Toronto FC center back Nana Attakora and for his team, which has not won since May 7. Both are looking for change in the second half of the season.
Attakora’s latest setback came June 4 when he made his first start in nearly two months. He suffered a strained quadriceps in the final minute of the 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City and has not played since.
“It’s getting better, it’s getting a lot stronger,” said Attakora who had an MRI to confirm the injury. “I’m looking to get back but I don’t want to rush it. It’s too early to predict ... but Vancouver’s a possibility, we’ll see.”
Toronto FC, who play at Real Salt Lake on Saturday (9 pm ET, MatchDay Live) play Vancouver at BMO Field twice next week — first on June 29 2 in a regular-season match and again three days later for the replay of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final second leg that was abandoned because of weather.
TFC are going for their third consecutive Canadian championship. It’s the most meaningful of the three in the eyes of Attakora, who is from Toronto and, at 22, has been with the club since the beginning.
“It’s always been important, but this year could be the most important year,” he said. “It could be something that kickstarts the second half of the season for us. If we can get a result against Vancouver I think it could put us on a high for our second-half push.
“We need to do well in the second half because it’s no secret we started off very poorly, and if we could win the Cup at home it would put us in a position to do well.”
During the first half of the season, Attakora often was the subject of rumors and speculation. There is a contract issue that has been pushed aside for now so that he can concentrate on playing, there have been injuries and a lack of playing time. One rumor had him on trial with a club in England, which he found amusing because he said he "can’t get a work permit there.”
“It’s been a roller-coaster year for me, personally,” he said. “But you know what? I’m having so much fun. You learn from situations like this.
“I feel this year with the staff we have in place and the direction they want to go in, it’s the best we’ve had so far. Even when things aren’t going well personally, it’s good to know the club’s heading in the direction it’s going in, especially me being from Toronto, it’s a great thing. I’m only 22, I have years ahead of me.”
It’s encouraging, he said, “to see people come in that have a vision and are going to stick with that vision no matter what,” and that has helped him deal with his own setbacks.