TORONTO – Toronto FC will be short-handed when they play the Chicago Fire at BMO Field on Wednesday (7 pm ET; TSN2 in Canada, MLS Live in the US) because of international call-ups – that was a given.
But getting Eric Hassli and Darren O’Dea back into the lineup wasn’t. And the fact that they’ll be available qualifies as a pleasant surprise.
O’Dea returned, tired but willing, from playing in the Republic of Ireland’s 2-1 victory at Kazakhstan in World Cup Qualifying last Friday and was given permission to miss Ireland’s friendly against Oman on Tuesday.
And Hassli is returning from a rib injury. He was back in training late last week and trained on Monday.
“He looked sharp and strong and confident,” assistant coach Jason Bent told reporters after Monday’s training. “I think he wants to get right back into it.”
Hassli was injured in the 2-1 loss at Columbus on Aug. 22 and missed the next league game at Houston. He played the first half of the 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League action at BMO Field but could not make the trip to Kansas City for the 2-1 loss on Sept. 1.
And despite the travel, O’Dea also impressed Bent with his training on Monday.
“He looked sharp, he looked lively,” said Bent. “You can see from his training he’s just so strong and vocal. And that’s something we need to get more of in this club – players that are vocal on the pitch. Not just rah-rah but good information and coaching all the time, organizing people. For me, he’s been fantastic with that, with his communication and leadership. And he attacks the ball.”
Toronto FC (5-16-6) will be without Terry Dunfield and Ashtone Morgan, both of whom are playing for Canada against Panama on Tuesday. Ryan Johnson and Dicoy Williams, meanwhile, will be with Jamaica against the United States, leaving TFC’s pickings slim for the game against Chicago (13-8-5).
Freddy Hall, who has started in goal the past three league games and one CCL game, and Reggie Lambe, who is returning from injury, have been with Bermuda but are expected to be back for Wednesday’s game.
Goalkeeper Milos Kocic, who has been the regular ‘keeper for most of the season, missed training of Monday celebrating the birth of triplets (two boys and a girl) on Sunday night. He is also expected to return to training Tuesday.