Good news has been going through the Toronto FC camp like wildfire this week, and now it appears to have spread to the injury front. The club saw four major players injured over the past two months, a stretch that tested their squad depth at many different positions.
The results have been fairly impressive, several players have taken their chance to make a name for themselves. The squad is deeper than previously imagined, and appears to be well stocked for the rest of the season and beyond. With that being said, the quality of these missing players was never quite replaced, and their return is important.
News out of training today is that Michael Bradley could return to full training late next week and presumably return to the squad early in August. Will Johnson and Clint Irwin are slightly longer away from a return, but could be back in mid-August.
The first of the aforementioned four injured starters, Jozy Altidore, returned to action this past Saturday and earned an assist in Toronto FC's 4-1 demolishing of DC United. He had been out of the lineup since May when he injured his hamstring.
Irwin suffered a quad injury after taking a goal kick against Orlando CIty SC, Johnson suffered a leg break when scoring the winning goal in the Voyageurs Cup final, while Bradley's knee injury came in the third place game of the Copa America Centenario.
Their returns will ask some interesting lineup questions, just as Altidore has done with a suddenly deep Toronto FC frontline. Irwin is the only obvious answer, he will immediately replace Bono who has done well in his absence.
While both Johnson and Bradley are all but guaranteed starting spots when they return, who they take out of the lineup remains to be seen. The biggest questions fall around Benoit Cheyrou who has been Toronto FC's best and most consistent player since the injury crisis began.
When Bradley, Johnson and Cheyrou were all healthy earlier in the season, the Frenchman was relegated to the bench for the most part. However, his play of late will make it almost impossible for Vanney to keep him out of the lineup, meaning there might only be one spot left in the midfield.
The possible acquisition of a number 10, which Toronto FC has been pursuing on the transfer market, means that playing time might be tight soon for a number of young midfielders, including Jonathan Osorio, Marky Delgado, Jay Chapman and Tsubasa Endoh.
Whatever happens, however, have more options is always better than less, and Toronto FC will still need a number of these players as future injuries and international absences take place. The team is in a good place right now, but if all goes to plan it will get even better in short order.
Who is in your ideal Toronto FC starting 11? Here is mine below as things currently stand: