TORONTO – Just a few weeks ago, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen was delighted that he finally had Robert Earnshaw and Danny Koevermans, a strike force that could perhaps fuel a playoff run, at his disposal.
Fast forward several weeks and Nelsen looks to be shorthanded yet again up top, as the TFC gaffer will most likely be without both Earnshaw and Kovermans when Toronto face off against the high-powered New York Red Bulls on Saturday (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS2 in Canada, MLS Live in US).
“Danny Koevermans is out for Saturday,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “I think he is a bit of a long-term one.”
While the big Dutchman has struggled with fitness concerns since returning to active duty earlier this month following nearly a year off because of injury, the 32-year-old Earnshaw had been a veritable iron man for the Reds until the last few weeks.
The Wales International subbed off early for precautionary reasons in Toronto’s previous two matches and did not train on Friday.
“Robert Earnshaw has a tight hamstring,” Nelsen said. “We had a long travel back [from Los Angeles] and we’ll have to give it today. In all honesty, it’s not looking great for Saturday.”
With Koevermans out and Earnshaw unlikely to play as well, Nelsen will have to lean on a trio of young forwards headlined by 25-year-old New Zealand International Jeremy Brockie when his squad face a Red Bulls team that obliterated the Montreal Impact 4-0 in their previous fixture.
“Jeremy Brockie has been great,” Nelsen said. “He always works his backside off. He has been really good for us and he works really hard. You also know you will get a strong and honest effort from Justin Braun. We’ve also got Andrew Wiedeman.”
Asked his thoughts on leading the forward line against Thierry Henry and company on the weekend, Brockie stressed that he and his teammates have to take care of their own business no matter who they play against.
“We know that they’ve got some very classy players in their side,” Brockie said. “But we have some good players in our side, too.”
The key? Getting on the board first, something that’s been a rare occurrence for Toronto recently.
“During the last couple of games, we’ve had opportunities to go out front before the other team has scored,” Brockie said. “When you don’t take those opportunities, you end up having results like we have had this past week. Whether it is myself or anyone else that gets an opportunity, we need to put it in the back of the net and build that confidence throughout the squad and release a bit of the pressure on the backline.”