Gold Cup: Toronto FC unfazed by international absences - "we knew that this was coming"

TORONTO – Toronto FC enter their upcoming stretch of three games a tad shorthanded in important positions, as captain Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore join the US national team for Gold Cup duty.

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio and left fullback Ashtone Morgan also head the same way with Canada, leaving Toronto FC without four key starters. While many teams have lost players to the Gold Cup, are Toronto FC’s losses the most devastating? 

“Definitely,” TFC head coach Greg Vanney said, when asked by reporters at training. “It’s two Designated Players and two other starters. It’s amongst the most devastating of any teams in the league.”

For Toronto FC, managing these next three games means digging in deep. With Sebastian Giovinco still in camp, Toronto FC still have one big component of their attack, but Vanney explained that players like Dan Lovitz, Mark Bloom and Marky Delgado would need to play bigger roles in the coming weeks.

“I think, for the most part, we’re going to need the resources that we thought we would, the guys we brought in that we thought would fill some holes for us,” Vanney said. “As guys perform well, they get more opportunities and we have to adjust accordingly. And we will.

“The good thing is we’ve had a fair number of players get some reasonable minutes this year, and we’ve had young guys come along and have good performances,” he continued. “So, all things being told, some guys will definitely get a chance, as that’s what happens when four starters are missing. I expect that they will be able to step in and fill the role, do what they do, not have to do what the other guys did, but do what they do within the structure of the team. I think we should be okay.”

While Bradley and Osorio’s absence in midfield might mean Toronto FC’s basic shape would be in question, Vanney says he won’t “look to change too much” on the tactical standpoint, offering that he believes his team has a “pretty good sense of what the identity is and what their roles are within the structure of the team.”

Ultimately, for Vanney and TFC’s coaching staff, this part of the year was one they had already planned ahead for. 

“We knew that this was coming,” Vanney said. “When we brought Jozy in and with Michael, we knew this was coming, and with Osorio, knowing he’s been playing well, he was always in the mix. With Ash, it was a pleasant surprise and he deserves it.

“We wish them well, we’re glad they got that opportunity and we’ll adjust as a team and come out competing.”