TORONTO – The big man may be back.
Eric Hassli hopes to play on Tuesday in Toronto FC’s vital CONCACAF Champions League group-stage match against Santos Laguna (8 pm ET; Fox Soccer).
Hassli developed back spasms after last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Columbus when he received close attention from Crew defenders, and was forced to skip last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Houston.
“It was pretty bad the day after Columbus,” Hassli said Monday after training separately from rest of the team as an added precaution. “I feel way better today. It’s going to be a new experience for me [playing in the CCL] and I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow.”
TFC head coach Paul Mariner said that if Hassli cannot play, the start would go to Quincy Amarikwa.
Midfielder Torsten Frings, who was rested for the game in Houston, also is expected to play against the Mexican side on Tuesday, while Freddy Hall is expected to get his third straight start in net.
The Reds, facing another season without making the league playoffs, are trying to find some solace in the CCL again.
“Everybody knows the playoffs are over for us and we have to really focus in the Champions League,” Hassli said.
Both Toronto and Santos Laguna have defeated El Salvador’s CD Águila in their first group matches by 5-1 and 5-0, respectively. Santos defeated Toronto 7-3 on aggregate in the CCL semifinals earlier this year after the teams drew 1-1 at BMO Field.
“It’s going to be tough because they are quick, real skilled and play very good soccer,” Hassli said. “But I think we are ready for this game tomorrow. This Champions League is really important to us. We have to win the game, we have to win on home field.”