TORONTO – Toronto FC’s four-game road trip is set to wrap up with one more away encounter, with the Reds traveling to Sporting Park to take on defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, although injuries continue to limit key players ahead of the clash.
Talismanic forward Jermain Defoe had been sidelined for about two weeks with a groin injury that he picked up earlier in July. TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said that Defoe had aggravated the injury against D.C. United, but gave a positive update on the English forward’s status this week.
“His status is, he’s looking positive, looking good, so he might be available,” Nelsen told reporters at training on Thursday. “We may have Jermain back but, again, we don’t want to push them too much. So we’ve got a few guys down, but we have a big enough squad to hopefully be able to handle it.”
Despite being without Defoe for the last two matches, Toronto FC still picked up six points, defeating rivals Montreal and Columbus on the road.
It’s not just Defoe’s injury that Nelsen is currently managing, however. Defender and club captain Steven Caldwell, as well as right back Mark Bloom, remain out through injury. Meanwhile, a touch of illness has descended on Toronto FC’s camp, leaving some of Nelsen’s players, like defender Doneil Henry, questionable for Saturday.
“Four or five have gone down in the past five or six days, so we’re a bit thin, especially with Bloom and Steven not available,” Nelsen said, before giving an update on his two sidelined defenders. “I think it’s probably a game too early for those two.”
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With Toronto FC sitting third in the Eastern Conference and actively trying to chase down second-place D.C. United and first-place Kansas City, Nelsen says a result from Sporting KC (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week, TSN2 in Canada), whether three points or one, will be key to the rest of the season.
“I think so, or even a draw, I think,” Nelsen said, when asked if the match against Sporting KC was a must-win. “But we just can’t lose to them. In terms of potentially trying to catch them, if we draw with them and then win or take four points in the next two games, it’s pretty close with a few games left so we just can’t lose to them if we want to catch them.
"But, in saying that, we’re more than confident that we can get a result and if we don’t get a result, we’ll be confident moving ahead.”