TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC centre-back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga will be fit to return to action after both were substituted against D.C. United on Monday during the Reds’ MLS is Back Tournament opener.
The two defenders started in at the heart of the Toronto back four before being substituted in the 64th minute, much to the dismay of TFC fans.
Head coach Greg Vanney spoke to the media on Tuesday, where he assured that the unusual substitutions were justified through injury and rest purposes.
“The biggest problem for them was they both felt like they were cramping up,” said Vanney. “Omar [Gonzalez] felt like he couldn't take two more steps; he was cramping every time he was trying to move.”
The TFC head coach would add that the pregame preparation for the USMNT defender would have to be better in the next game to get control of the cramping.
Vanney then explained his substitution of Mavinga for Laurent Ciman, citing that the Frenchman was also suffering from, well, cramp, likely due to the hot Florida weather.
“It’s always a calculation this early in the season,” said Vanney. “Do you have a guy out there that’s cramping in a game like that and risk him? Or do you make a change? We obviously made a change. Part of that was the preservation of Chris (Mavinga) at this point for sure.”
The two substitutions, though for the health of the players, preceded the 10-man D.C, United comeback through goals from Federico Higuain coming off the bench, and Frédéric Brillant in stoppage time.
In complete control. Greg Vanney will be disappointed with the defending after his changes. #TFCLive give up a two goal lead for the second time this season. Gave up 18pts from losing positions last season including blowing leads down the stretch at Columbus, LAFC, Chicago, NE.— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) July 13, 2020
As a result of the rest, Vanney is confident that both players will be available for selection on Thursday.
“...Both of them are fine; they’ve rehydrated, and they’re in a position now where they can play, and we’ll asses as we go into the game and chose our team,” Vanney said.
Toronto FC are set to take on Montreal Impact on Thursday night (should there be no delays). It’s a derby he explains can decide how the rest of the tournament plays out.
“We’re both wanting the points to try and set ourselves up the best possible way going into the third game... i think both teams are going to go for it.”
Predicted Starting XI
- Greg Vanney was pleasantly surprised with how his team looked on Tuesday after Monday’s match, making note that most of his players will be available for selection.
- Justin Morrow is still a question mark after coming off at halftime due to Achilles tendinitis issues. Vanney noted he was still pretty sore after the match.
- Jonathan Osorio (quad) and Jozy Altidore (fitness/rest) are still doubtful for Thursday’s contest. If they are able to somehow get up to match fitness, they’ll likely come off the bench.
- Pablo Piatti played 73 minutes on Monday. Do the start him again on Thursday or do we see our first instance of load management, Pablo style?