TFC sees positive news on injury front and a less congested schedule in weeks ahead
While Toronto FC coach Bob Bradley says there is positive news when it comes to the club's lengthy injury list, squad rotation remains a luxury as TFC prepares for Saturday's game at Minnesota United.
"In a perfect world rotation would be nice, a nice consideration," Bradley said with a wry smile. "But obviously we have limited options so we are going to see where guys are … There's a lot of work going on downstairs (in the trainer's room)."
The trip to Allianz Field represents TFC's third game in a week, following a 2-1 win over D.C. United last Saturday and 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire, both at BMO Field.
Toronto (3-5-8) is still missing defender Shane O'Neill, midfielders Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vázquez and Alonso Coello and forward Adama Diomande.
But Bradley can call on defender Sigurd Rosted and midfielder Brandon Servania, who have recovered from injury. Both were on the bench Wednesday with Servania coming on in the 60th minute.
Rosted has not played since May 9 due to a painful rib injury. Servania had to leave last Saturday's win over D.C. United in the 20th minute after picking up a knock.
Osorio, who has not played since April 22 due to a strained knee ligament, could return to full training next week.
"So that would be sort of an indication that there's a light at the end of the tunnel," said Bradley. "Yes there are still some others that are longer-term but that would be a nice thing. With Sigurd back, I feel like we've got a few more options"
After winning only one of seven matches (1-4-2) in May in all competitions, TFC faces a less congested June with just four matches and an 11-day international break in mid-month.
At 0-4-3 away from BMO Field, Toronto is one of four MLS teams yet to win on the road this season (along with Houston, New York City FC and Vancouver).
Minnesota (5-6-4) is seventh in the West but has won just once at home (1-1-4).
"Always just a solid team with good basic football ideas," said Bradley.
Minnesota is winless its last three matches in all competitions (0-2-1), losing 2-1 at Austin on Wednesday on an 82nd-minute Sebastian Driussi goal after taking an early 1-0 lead. Minnesota outshot Austin 22-13 (7-6 in shots on target), hitting the woodwork several times.
Adrian Heath's club, which has been outscored 7-2 in its last three outings, is making changes.
Minnesota waived Canadian international defender Doneil Henry this week, opening up an international spot on the roster.
Attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso, suspended for not joining the team at the start of this season, could be on the Minnesota bench Saturday. The Argentine designated player led the Loons with 10 goals and 11 assists last season.
"My sense is that he maybe is available for some minutes but I don't think he's far enough in the return yet that he's going to be a huge factor," said Bradley, referencing Reynoso. "But even if he's on the field for 10 or 15 minutes, he's a difference-maker in the way he sees the game and the plays he can make."
According to the Star-Tribune, Minnesota is working on a deal to send Paraguayan international forward Luis Amarilla to Mexico's Mazatlan with former Norwich City forward Teemu Pukki, a teammate of Minnesota midfielder Robin Lod on the Finnish national team, rumoured as a possible replacement as a designated player.
Toronto and Minnesota have met just three times, with TFC winning the last encounter 4-3 at BMO Field in April 2019. TFC leads the series 2-1-0, losing 4-3 in its lone visit to Minnesota in July 2018.
The two teams have combined for 19 goals in their three meetings.
South African international forward Bongokuhle (Bongi) Hlongwane leads the team with four goals.
The Minnesota team has Canadian/TFC ties.
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was a member of Canada's World Cup team in Qatar and fellow 'keeper Clint Irwin and Jamaican international defender Kemar Lawrence are former Toronto players.
Canadian forward Tani Oluwaseyi is currently on loan to San Antonio FC.
Minnesota goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr used to hold down the same job at Toronto while technical director Mark Watson is a Canada Soccer Hall of Famer who won 78 caps for Canada from 1991 to 2004.
Jeremy Hall, another former Toronto player, is an assistant coach with MUFC 2.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2023.