The injury bug has not been kind to Toronto FC this season. When injuries have occurred, they have been to the team's core players. Even worse, the injuries have come in positions where Toronto FC have little cover.
First, it was the forward issue, one that still hasn't been fully resolved. When Jozy Altidore suffered a hamstring injury Toronto was left to trot out inexperienced Mo Babouli and Jordan Hamilton. Both have done well, but the absence of Altidore has still been felt throughout the lineup.
Now, Toronto FC will likely have to spend the next few weeks with some unproven goalkeepers between the pipes after Clint Irwin went down to injury against Orlando City SC. Irwin has flown back to Toronto for a medical evaluation with further details on his condition expected later this week.
Meanwhile, his teammates will be stepped onto the field with either Quillan Roberts or Alex Bono in net. Roberts is 21, Bono is 22 and between them, they have 20 minutes of MLS experience.
Those came on Saturday when Bono replaced the injured Irwin against Orlando City. The early results were not good, Bono allowed a pair of goals, one off a penalty, in those 20 minutes and Toronto FC lost 3-2. Within minutes of coming onto the field, he missed a ball in the box which resulted in a free header for Adrian Winter.
Fully blaming Bono doesn't seem fair, these were some unfortunate circumstances under which to make a debut. However, the reality is that Toronto FC will be forced to give one of these inexperienced keepers the net for the Voyageurs Cup final on Wednesday, and for who knows how long after that.
The question becomes which keeper do they trust enough to put into this position? The situation is actually strikingly similar to that of Jordan Hamilton and Mo Babouli.
Roberts, like Hamilton, has been with Toronto FC for a long time now. He has come up through the ranks, starting a number of games at the USL level. He has been waiting for his opportunity with the senior team for a couple of years, but it has never come until this unexpected opening. Roberts won the backup job from Bono earlier in the season, but it now appears Bono has wrestled it back out of his hands.
Bono, meanwhile, is the Babouli of the situation, only recently coming to the organisation and making an impact quickly. Drafted 6th overall in 2015 SuperDraft, Bono instantly seemed to have the inside track to the backup job based on the virtue that he was "management's guy". That belief in him has not wavered despite a shaky first USL season, and he is definitely the favourite to start in net for Toronto against Vancouver.
What remains to be seen is how either of these goalkeepers can handle themselves in the pressure of a cup final, and going forward in MLS. This stretch, however long it may be, could give a glimpse into the future at which of these two is truly ready for the rigours of playing professionally. Both have a chance to make themselves a hero if they can pull out a victory on Wednesday, and hand Toronto its fifth Voyageurs Cup.
It's easy to blame Toronto FC's front office for not properly stocking the cupboards, but MLS is a league where rosters are always incredibly thin. It takes years to stockpile depth across multiple positions. At some point, it comes down to bad luck.
However, unfortunately, it also comes at a time where the team really does need results. Toronto dropped to 7th place in the MLS Eastern Conference on Saturday, nowhere near where they expected to be by this time of year. It's going to be a bumpy road ahead for Toronto FC, one can only hope that one of these two has steady enough hands to keep the team on the road to the playoffs.