TORONTO – Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen has had to deal with injuries to some of his key players all year long, and that injury bug reared its ugly, unwanted head once again with both captain Steven Caldwell and left fullback Justin Morrow out of commission for the weeks ahead.
Nelsen revealed at training Tuesday that Caldwell would be out for another couple of weeks, not fully recovered from a quad injury he picked up early in July after he coming out early in Saturday's 2-2 draw against the Chicago Fire. Nelsen said that Morrow, one of the most consistent presences in the backline, would be out of action for three to four weeks after he was injured in the same game.
Nelsen said that these kinds of injuries are par for the course in a long season.
“I think the difference is we’ve got some high-end, elite athletes now in our team where previously, in the past, guys couldn’t get up to a certain speed to even pull a hamstring – no disrespect to them,” Nelsen told reporters at training Tuesday. “We’ve got some thoroughbreds now, some guys who can really move through the gears. It kind of comes with that kind of player.”
This isn’t the first time Toronto FC have had to deal with numerous injuries to key personnel. They have had their fair share of injuries this season, especially in the backline. Right back Mark Bloom just recently returned to action against the Fire.
Forward Andrew Wiedeman is also out of action with a back problem, but new pick up Warren Creavalle is set to return from his hamstring injury and could feature in Toronto FC’s Saturday clash against the New England Revolution at BMO Field (5 pm ET; MLS Live).
Nelsen will look to his squad to fill in the holes left by Caldwell and Morrow, and it might just make way for young Canadian left back Ashtone Morgan, once a regular fixture in the backline, to break into the starting XI and make a case for more regular playing time.
“Everybody’s got an opportunity now to come in,” Nelsen said of Morgan. “When one door closes, another one opens.”
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Nelsen will hope that whatever back four he does put together will work to avoid conceding what he said are avoidable goals.
“What we’ve got to understand is that there’s going to be times in the game where we have to knuckle down and really defend,” Nelsen said. “We need to get in together as a whole team and see out that little period until we get control of the game again. At the moment, we’re just not seeing out those little periods.
“If somebody gets in trouble, we need to help out,” he continued. “It’s not just the backline, it’s the midfield as well, the strikers, everybody. We can’t just rely on hoping that, in a one-v-one battle, we will win it 10 out of 10 times because that one time, if you don’t win it, it hurts. We need reserve mechanisms that kick in, when something breaks down, somebody’s there to help out there teammates. We just need to reinforce that.”