This Friday Toronto FC wrapped up the Toronto based portion of their preseason training. The next leg of things will begin on Monday when the club packs their bags and heads down to Orlando. In the leadup to the trip there have been a pair of stories worth taking note of. The first came from Sportsnet's John Molinaro and the second from the Sun's Kurt Larson.
Both men had a couple of really interesting tidbits in their posts but the first one that should be highlighted was Mariner confirming to Larson that Julian De Guzman will in fact be suspended for the match against the LA Galaxy on March 7th. The Canadian international will be unavailable due to the amount of cards he accumulated in the previous round of CONCACAF Champions League play. It will be a big blow to the side as they will now be forced to rely on either Elbekay Bouchiba or Terry Dunfield being fully fit to start the match, or go with Matt Stinson in a very big game.
Not mentioned by Larson is that as per Concacaf's website, Nick Soolsma also picked up his second yellow card against FC Dallas in October so will also have to miss the game. That more than likely means that Reggie Lambe will get thrown right into the first team in the big game against LA. Another option would be Joao Plata moving to the Right Wing with Ryan Johnson or Luis Silva playing on the left, but I'd think Lambe would be the most likely.
Now the question has been raised about cards carrying over to this stage of the competition and the answer seems to be that they do. In the rules as published by CONCACAF section 6.29 is the most relevant to this debate:
Any player to accumulate two single yellow cards in two different matches in the CCL is suspended for the following game. Thereafter, each time a player accumulates two single yellow cards in two different matches, he will be suspended for the following game with the exception that single cautions will be eliminated at the end of the Group Stage and at the end of the Championship Round.
My reading of that rule would suggest that since JDG has already accumulated the two cards he would then still have to face the one match ban. If any other player is on a single card though that yellow will not carry over to this round of play. That's good news for Ashtone Morgan, Milos Kocic and Richard Eckersley, but also means LA players such as Landon Donovan, Mike Magee and others don`t have to worry about a yellow card meaning they miss the second leg. Read into it what you want by checking out the complete rules here.
The other intriguing note from both writers is that the team has decided to leave Jeremy Hall and Dicoy Williams at home in Toronto. They made that decision to allow the players to continue their rehab full time as neither is fit enough to participate in activities with the full team. The other two players coming back from injury, Terry Dunfield and Adrian Cann, are both expected to travel with the team. Dunfield was involved in full training for much of this week and seems to be close to full fitness and will just need to find some sharpness back in advance of March. Cann on the other hand is a bit further away but continues to progress well as he is now reportedly doing some work with a ball again. The club will likely have him work with the full squad at some point down in Florida but his availability for the game on March 7th remains in question.
Now where the two reports seem to differ is the number of players the club will be taking along to Orlando. Larson indicates that they will be traveling with 7 or 8 academy players which would mean almost the full 38 played in camp now being involved. On the other hand, Molinaro suggests that the team is planning on bringing just 32 players along but that they also are not planning to make any more cuts. The key note in that regard comes from Molinaro speaking to Bob de Klerk:
Nine members of the club’s youth academy joined the senior team at the start of training camp two weeks ago. De Klerk explained some of them have school commitments, so only a few of them will be in Orlando.
To me that sounds a bit like the nicest way of explaining why some players are being left behind in Toronto. At this stage the two weeks the youngsters have had in camp will have been great for them, but if they are not even on the radar for a home grown contract bringing them along to Orlando is not really essential. I expect that in the end the report from de Klerk will be closer to the truth and the team will leave probably 4 or 5 of the young players behind allowing them to hit that 32-34 player mark indicated.
Regardless of the number of players that Toronto brings along to Orlando it seems they will be joined by a pair of trailists. Earlier this week we had the news that Kevin Huezo would likely be one of the two trialists in camp but there is no word on who the other might be. Mariner did give a bit of insight to Larson on it though:
the team will be joined by two trialists while in Florida. While he tells me the two trialists are "domestic," they are not former MLS players and he wouldn’t reveal the names