It turns out injuries and not the international break could be Toronto FC's primary source of concern when they play Real Salt Lake on Sunday. News out of KIA Training Ground at today's training session was that Eriq Zavaleta, Steven Caldwell, Damien Perquis and Mark Bloom all did not take part and are dealing with varying injuries.
Reports from TSN's Gareth Wheeler explained that all four did not participate in training. Originally it seemed all four would be doubtful for this weekend's game, however later reports have updated the status on each player: Perquis is probable, Caldwell and Bloom are questionable while Perquis' injury is believed to be minor.
Most discussion surrounding the team's roster last week had to do with being gutted by the international break. However, when all was said and done only two major pieces, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, were called up to the national squad. Sebastian Giovinco was left off the Italian roster, while Jonathan Osorio will not be playing in Canada's March camp.
With that bullet dodged, another may well be on the way and directed squarely at Toronto FC's already vulnerable backline. Defense has been Toronto's notable weakness in its first two games of the season, and the aforementioned injuries plus the fact that Justin Morrow's red card has been upheld doesn't help the situation any.
That leaves Toronto with the possibility of having the same backline that had the disastrous second half collapse against the Columbus Crew with 10 men: Warren Creavalle, Nick Hagglund, Perquis and Ashtone Morgan. The problem now is that they have no depth to back those players up should the injury situation get worse.
There have been suggestions that Clement Simonen could be called up by Toronto FC to fill in on the bench, but it certainly wouldn't be ideal as the team is looking to get him as many starting minutes as possible with TFC II. Skylar Thomas would be another player who has impressed in preseason and USL.
Injuries were a major factor in the clubs collapse last season, and feeling their bite early should be a huge test for a team already trying to create chemistry early on in the season. Constant moving pieces due to injury and suspension on the backline was a huge part of that destructive puzzle.
The good news is that should these injuries hold defenders out of the lineup it doesn't appear any of them will do so for more than one game. Furthermore, RSL will be missing some attacking options, as Alvaro Saborio and Luis Gil are both away on international duty. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando has also been called for RSL.
Either way, Toronto's task of earning a result in Salt Lake just got significantly more difficult.