TORONTO — With a new Designated Player now signed and ready to go, Toronto FC could soon be buoyed by the return of their other DP in the coming weeks.
Striker Danny Koevermans, who was on a torrid scoring pace prior to a season-ending ACL injury last July, is back training. And although the big Dutchman is likely a month away from his first appearance of 2013, according to TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen, his return to the training pitch is a major positive for a team that has been relying almost solely on forward Robert Earnshaw to engineer and finish chances up top.
"Obviously, it is extremely exciting,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com last week. “I think you can look at him there [on the training pitch] and you can see some of the finishing that he does."
Nelsen was quick to temper that enthusiasm, however, noting that Koevermans is essentially in preseason mode right now.
“He is a long way off in terms of match fitness and that is why we are trying to get him into these 4-v-4 and 5-v-5 games, to get guys around him and to get his feet moving quicker and get that football fitness up,” Nelsen said. “The more we can do that with him, then the quicker we can potentially bring him back. But we aren’t going to bring him back until he is really ready because he has been out for a long time now and it wouldn’t do him justice.”
While Toronto FC would certainly benefit as a whole if Koevermans is able to resume playing at anything close to the form he showed last season, no player on Toronto’s roster would likely benefit more than Earnshaw.
The Welsh striker has not scored in TFC’s last two games, as teams such as Houston and New York focused their defensive efforts on denying him service and scoring opportunities.
“We are hoping that he can get back as soon as possible,” Earnshaw said. “He is just slowly getting there and getting some minutes on the training pitch, which is huge. ... But it is encouraging. We love to see him on the training pitch and it gives us a lift because he has done well just to get this far.”