News broke today regarding a fresh injury to a Toronto FC starter.
Vanney: "Joe Bendik is questionable due to a foot injury. Chris Konopka would start if Joe can't go." #TFCLive— Toronto FC (@torontofc) April 30, 2015
This could make for an interesting development as we may get to see Chris Konopka make his first ever league start for Toronto FC. With both Alex Bono (Generation Adidas) and Quillan Roberts eligible to step in for the senior club, one of the youngsters would likely be called up to sit on the bench and back up Konopka should Bendik be deemed unfit to play.
Earlier today TFC also released an update on the status of their depleted backline. As per the update, former Reds captain Steven Caldwell, who has played all of 135 minutes this season (a game and a half), will remain sidelined for the match in Philadelphia with the injury to his Achilles. 2015 draft pick Clement Simonin will also be unavailable after a minor knee surgery, and right fullback Mark Bloom, who still has yet to feature in a match in 2015, continues to suffer from a Quadriceps strain and remains listed as questionable for this weekend's encounter.
While normally this would all appear to be terrible news for the Reds, a surprisingly impressive performance from TFC's makeshift backline against Orlando last weekend should bring a bit of comfort to fans still eagerly awaiting the return of our defenders. Sure, the performance was against Orlando City- a club struggling to generate offence through their first eight matches, but it was still a positive after the Reds managed to leak far too many goals leading up to the encounter.
Another reason TFC fans should be hopeful is that the club's opponent this weekend is the Philadelphia Union. In 9 games so far this season, the Union have only managed to score 10 goals, collecting but one win in the process. And while Union DP Fernando Aristeguieta is likely to make the team's lineup after missing Philadelphia's last match, he will still be returning from a hamstring injury (and week off), which could potentially impact his fitness and sharpness in the eighteen.
TFC coach Greg Vanney would be wise to start the same backline as last game. Nick Hagglund had a great bounce-back from a disappointing performance in the first half of the Dallas game (at right back) as he partnered in the middle with Damien Perquis. Ashtone Morgan, much to the very pleasant surprise of Toronto fans, had a fantastic outing on the left, while Justin Morrow provided a solid veteran presence on the right, despite playing on his ‘unnatural' side.
While some of the defenders' success should be attributed to a change in tactics which saw the fullbacks actually playing... well... as fullbacks, a large part of the clean sheet can also be chalked up to their individual performances and positional awareness. And with Ashtone Morgan on the verge of hitting the century mark, it would be a great reward to let him trot out onto the pitch with the rest of the starting eleven come Saturday afternoon.