Toronto FC is feeling the frustration of early-season injuries, blown leads

By | March 17, 2023

It’s early in the MLS season, but Toronto FC’s frustration is building.

Injuries to key players have cost coach Bob Bradley an opportunity to field his first-choice team. Toronto (0-1-2) has led in all three games but has been unable to hold on for the win.

TFC continues its quest for its first win of the season when Inter Miami (2-1-0) visits BMO Field on Saturday.

Toronto is winless in its last nine league games (0-6-3) dating back to last season. Their last win came on August 27, 2-0 at Charlotte FC.

Italy star winger Lorenzo Insigne (groin) and Norwegian forward Adama Diomande (hamstring) are sidelined for Toronto. Defensive player Shane O’Neill, who has faced similar problems before, is sidelined with a headache.

The situation worsens with Toronto losing fullback Richie Laria, midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Mark-Anthony Kaye and forward Ayo Akinola to Canada next week, meaning another roster spot for an away game in San Jose.

“Simply put, it’s not very good that you play throughout the international break,” Bradley said.

The good news is that Akinola is back healthy after tweaking his hamstring in last week’s 1-1 draw with visiting Columbus. And Bradley says an expert’s prognosis is positive for O’Neill.

Insigne, the league’s highest-paid player, didn’t miss a day in pre-season, but the 31-year-old hasn’t played since being pulled out of DC United’s Feb. 25 season opener — a 3-2 loss. TFC scored goals in the 90th and 98th minutes – 34 minutes apart.

“It’s disappointing for all of us,” Bradley said. “You felt going through the preseason that he was in good shape.”

The club say the Italian will be unavailable for another three to four games after suffering a setback in training last week.

“He reached for the ball (and) felt a little pain,” Bradley said. “We decided to check it again and the scan showed that it had escalated. Similar action to what happened in DC

“For him to feel something in 30 minutes (in D.C.) on a play like that is disappointing,” Bradley added. “But we have to work in it in a way that we can get him back and keep him on the field.”

The onus on the injury list has fallen on Federico Bernadeschi, who has accounted for two of Toronto’s four goals this season. The Italian winger has had 21 percent of TFC’s total touches in the attacking third, which ranks fifth in the league according to

With its offense depleted, Toronto has been outscored 43-18 (15-10 on field goals) over the first three games. At least 18 hits by a team in the first three games of a season since 2010, according to the league.

Bernadeschi has had four of those shots, all on target, but failed to get a shot on target in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with visiting Columbus.

“He was disappointed at the end in the last game. But he was disappointed in himself,” Bradley said. “He didn’t deliver in that game like he did in the previous two games.”

In the last two games, there have been very few scoring opportunities. Toronto’s XG (expected goals) were 0.3 and 0.8 over the last two games.

However, Miami coach Phil Neville expects Toronto to be a tough opponent.

“I know they’re missing a few players, but Bob is a really good coach. He has recruited very well and they will be desperate, desperate for their first win of the season. So I think it will be a very tough game.”

Miami has won five straight against Toronto since losing the first meeting in 2020. TFC’s five losses are tied for Toronto’s longest streak against an MLS opponent (Seattle, 2010-13).

Miami received some unwelcome injury news of its own this week, with team captain Brazilian midfielder Gregor expected to miss six months after undergoing surgery on a foot injured in a challenge by NYCFC’s Matias Pellegrini.

Neville calls Gregor the “heart and soul” of the club.

“We will miss him and the team will be different … we will need everyone to contribute,” he added.

It was a great start for Miami in a 1-0 loss at New York City FC last weekend, which was only conceded once. Neville’s team opened with 2-0 home wins against CF Montreal and Philadelphia.

Miami forward Josef Martínez has scored 98 goals in 135 regular season games and is looking to become the fastest player in MLS history to reach the 100-goal milestone. Bradley Wright-Phillips currently holds the record having done it in 159 games.

Toronto added depth at fullback on Tuesday by claiming defenseman Cristian Gutierrez.

The 26-year-old Gutierrez joined Whitecaps FC from Chilean side Colo-Colo in January 2020 and made 44 appearances (including 32 starts) with 6 assists. While he earned US$267,500 with Vancouver last season, Bradley said TFC did not collect his full salary.

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper { display: grid; grid-template-columns : return ( 2 , 1fr ); spacing: 20px; }

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a { pointer-events: none; cursor: default; text-decoration: none; Color: Black; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *