TORONTO – The loss of Designated Player Torsten Frings has Toronto FC suddenly scrambling for an answer – one that hopefully includes plugging the huge hole on their back line for at least a month.
The team learned Tuesday that their German captain will miss four to six weeks with a hamstring strain suffered while making a tackle on David Estrada in the 23rd minute of this past Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Seattle. It was both teams’ regular-season opener, and took the air out of Toronto's balloon after an historic CONCACAF Champions League win over LA last week.
The injury means Frings will not only miss the Toronto’s MLS home opener on Saturday against San Jose (1 pm ET, TSN in Canda, MLS Live in US), but will also be sidelined for both legs of the CCL semifinal series against Santos Laguna, beginning next week.
“Everyone’s got to step up to the plate now, obviously,” said right back Richard Eckersley, who stepped into a center back role briefly last season because of injuries. “Torsten is a big influence on the team and things at the back. I think everyone’s got to get their chest out now and we’re all going to be leaders. Whoever steps into the center back position, then they’ve got to do a job there if it’s me or someone else.”
Frings was replaced in the loss to Seattle by Aaron Maund, but head coach Aron Winter said Tuesday he’s not tipping his hand as to who will start against the Earthquakes.
One player who might be an option in the near future is Adrian Cann, who is in full training with the team as he continues his comeback from knee surgery. Cann can't duplicate Frings' skill on the ball and sweeper's instincts, but he's a veteran leader who knows how to organize a backline.
Even so, he's still about two weeks away from playing in a game.
“It’s a big loss,” Winter said. “Of course, we’re looking always for a player similar to Torsten for in a case of what has happened.
“You need somebody who is a leader on the pitch and a leader outside of the pitch,” Winter added. “And Torsten is very important for us. But in that time we can have solutions in our own roster.”
Those solutions have to come quickly with a potentially season-defining stretch ahead of them.
“It’s a disappointment that he has an injury,” forward Nick Soolsma said. “He can bring a lot of experience every game and of course we have to find a solution for that, but I think the coach will know how to do that.”