One thing Toronto FC did not need was another injury.
But after being shaken up in an aerial collision with the LA Galaxy’s Mike Magee early in the 14th minute, central defender Richard Eckersley did not return for the second half of Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Home Depot Center.
“We just can’t get a break at the present moment,” head coach Paul Mariner said. “Eckersley goes off. Hopefully it’s not a concussion, but we ‘re extra careful with that now. I thought the challenge by Magee was questionable, very questionable. Again one of our better players is out of the game.”
Eckersley, normally a right fullback, has been teamed as a centerback with Darren O’Dea. When he couldn’t come out for the second half, Aaron Maund moved from midfield to the backline. Maund was originally drafted this year as a defender.
“I lose one of my best players at halftime, and you've got to regroup and put young players in positions they're not particularly familiar with,” Mariner said.
Toronto FC was already coming into the match without striker Eric Hassli, who has an ankle injury picked up in the September 15 draw with Philadelphia and the full extent of the injury has not yet been determined.
“We’ve got Hassli laid up at home, and the others DPs are out, so we’ve got our backs against the wall to say the least. But we’ve still got some fight in us,” Mariner said.
Hassli was obtained in a July 20 trade with Vancouver and his absence means all three of Toronto’s designated players are out with injury. Danny Koevermans (knee) and midfielder Torsten Frings (hip) have undergone season-ending surgeries.
Despite the injury list, the Reds, who were down 3-0 at one point vs. LA, rallied all the way back to 3-2 on Luis Silva’s goal in the 86th minute despite being outplayed for most of the game. A stoppage time goal by LA's Robbie Keane put the game out of reach.
OPTA Chalkboard: LA dominate from start to finish
Toronto have not won in league play since defeating Colorado 2-1 on July 18, a span of 10 games in which they have three draws and seven losses.
“My hat's off to the lads," Mariner said. "Coming back 3-2 to the Galaxy is good, but at the end of the day we've lost.”
Larry Millson covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.