Toronto FC takes no chances with hobbled players, brings weakened lineup to Portland for Timbers match

PORTLAND — Greg Vanney has made his club’s five remaining home games the clear priority, so it was not surprising that Toronto FC’s head coach brought a vastly depleted roster to Portland for Wednesday night’s game.

Top scorers Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio, fellow offensive maestro Victor Vazquez and starting defenders Drew Moor and Gregory van der Wiel all did not make the long trip West, along with Auro Jr. and Chris Mavinga, who have well-documented injury issues and are at least a week away from returns.

Giovinco came up a bit lame during Saturday’s 3-1 home win over the Montreal Impact, while Vazquez recently had a cortisone shot in his troublesome knee and the club didn’t want to risk anything on the turf at Providence Park. Van der Wiel is also a bit knicked up, while Moor played 90 minutes for the first time since April on Saturday and has only recently returned from a torn calf.

Ironman Osorio, who had been one of two Reds player to suit up for every league game so far, along with Michael Bradley, also was not on hand. Osorio is dealing with a hip issue and banged his hand on the grass in Toronto after a hard spill last Saturday. Vanney said he had hoped he would have been able to substitute Osorio during that match, but was unable to. Osorio “warriored it out,” Vanney had said.

Bradley was forced to play centre back again for the first time in weeks. The star midfielder played that role out of necessity earlier this season and in Mexico when the injury bug first hit TFC.

Toronto hosts Los Angeles FC on Saturday at BMO Field.

TFC had never won in Portland (0-2-1) and Vanney had said earlier in the week that the stats show MLS clubs have had very little success making the trip cross-country midweek.

“We’ll try to be wise,” Vanney had said.

“We’re not going to risk anyone or throw anyone out that we may need for the remaining games.”

We have to really approach winning the home games, there’s six of them, and along the way we have to pick up at least one road game.”

The final three road tilts are each in the East (Newark, N.J., Washington and Montreal), which means far less travel.

TFC got some good news earlier Wednesday when the Philadelphia Union defeated D.C. United 2-0. With five straight wins, Philadelphia has gained a stranglehold on the second-last playoff spot, leaving Toronto, D.C., New England and Montreal to fight it out for sixth.

New England sat two points ahead of Toronto prior to last night’s game and remained two ahead of D.C. Montreal held a six-point edge on Toronto and D.C. and four on New England, but had played more games.

Bradley has made it clear that Toronto will battle every game, no matter who is out on the field.

“Along the way there has been a few people from different places that have been ready to count us out. We have been able to just keep ourselves going, and find ways to fight, scrap and claw,” Bradley said.

“We are going to have to do that for nine more games, we have to do everything we can to take this down to the wire and get ourselves into the playoffs.”

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies