Window Shutting On Def Depth
Word earlier today that start striker Jermaine Defoe is out for up to three weeks with a groin issue is a significant concern for Toronto FC. How can it not be considering that Defoe is the primary goal scorer to date and his quality will be sorely missed for these next few road games. Hopefully if all goes well on the Defoe front he will be back in time for the home game on August 30th versus New England.
Defoe is for me however not the biggest worry right now. A rounding into form Gilberto scored in Montreal last weekend and put in a magnificent display of movement, pace and controlled aggression. I think he will provide a solid enough primary striking option going forward these next few weeks along of course with Moore and Weideman (if he needs to be called upon). Dominic Oduro also played all of last season as a striker in Columbus so he can definitely be deputized into the role if need be. Bright Dike is back apparently in training and might be ready soon to play after coming off an Achilles injury (wonderful news for the run in!). Suffice it to say there is some depth at the striker position, maybe not as much as we all would like but enough to get by for a short period of time.
So if striker is not the biggest worry then what is?
Steven Caldwell is listed as still out with a quadriceps injury and no specific date for his return has been mooted. No single player on Toronto FC is arguably more missed in his absence then Captain Caldwell is in my opinion. And as the matches get bigger and bigger in importance as the Reds start the run in not augmenting the centre back position with at least one experienced pro between now and September would be a grave error. Wednesday August 6th is the last day that MLS sides can add players from overseas to a 2014 roster spot. The ‘secondary window’ as it is known only runs from July 8th to August 6th this year. Domestic based players and players out of contract can still be added up to the roster freeze deadline of September 15th but tomorrow is the last best chance to scour the planet to find a depth player with experience who can deputize Caldwell and help out the young pairing of Henry and Caldwell. If tomorrow comes and goes without word of some defensive cover on the way I for one think the Reds will be making a huge mistake.
Sports Clubs Stats (http://www.sportsclubstats.com/USA/TorontoFC.html) which in real time analyzes MLS teams chances of making the post season gives Toronto FC today roughly a 88% chance of making the playoffs all things being equal. Only when you see the Reds winning anything less than five of the fourteen games remaining are there scenarios out there that would see Toronto miss the playoffs if you believe the numbers. The only realistic scenario I can see for the Reds finding themselves in a situation like this would be even more injuries at the back or if Henry and Hagglund implode under the pressure. Even if the Reds do make the playoffs do any of us potentially see Toronto making a deep run with two such young centre backs anchoring the back line? What if one or both of them go down?
So much has gone right this season relatively speaking for Toronto FC. So much more ahead can still go horribly wrong. To me not addressing depth at centre back would be a bad move. Not doing something about it by tomorrow makes it even harder.