It’s not the worst news, but it’s not great either. Nick Hagglund has torn the MCL in his left knee and was ruled out for between eight to 12 weeks by Toronto FC on Monday morning, while Sebastian Giovinco faces three weeks on the sidelines with a quadriceps strain.
Firstly, Hagglund. This a cruel blow to a player in the best form of his career - Hagglund has been excellent during Toronto’s six-match winning streak and ensured Drew Moor’s absence was felt to a far lesser extent than anyone could have imagined. When knees and ligaments and tears are involved, though, I can’t help but feel relieved, despite the medium-term absence, that the centre-back’s season is not over.
In a regular-season-and-playoffs league like MLS, the most important thing is that Hagglund will be back in plenty of time for the postseason. Toronto will miss him in the meantime, of course, but have the strength in depth to cope without plummeting down the league table.
Our resident doctor, Tej Sahota, provided this analysis:
likely a grade 1 tear, less than 50% of the ligament
these usually scar down well, and with PRP injections the scar begins to gain elasticity as well.
you may note some sort of soft brace/compression type sleeve when he returns, but mobility should be there fully
Chris Mavinga is the natural replacement for Hagglund on the left side of the back three, while Greg Vanney seems to be hopeful that Moor will be available on Friday night against the New York Red Bulls. Jason Hernandez will continue as the sweeper if not.
Then there is Seba. As Tej wrote this morning, it’s time to sit Giovinco until all the little niggles that have been bugging him this season clear up. At this stage of the season, it’s simply not worth the risk of (a) worsening whatever his existing issues are, (b) creating new injuries as a result of playing through the pain or (c) having minor things go unresolved and continue to bother the Italian all year.
Giovinco’s substitution on Saturday was labelled merely a precaution at the time and there was confusion over whether it was his calf or quad that was affected, so you wonder if the club is simply now reporting a strain to get him out of the spotlight for exactly the reasons Tej outlined. Because of the international break in June, Giovinco will effectively get a month’s rest before his likely return to MLS action on June 17 against D.C. United while missing only three league games in the meantime.
His absence will mean more opportunities for Tosaint Ricketts - though quite frankly, the Canadian has continued to look at his most potent late in games - and perhaps a switch to the 3-4-2-1 formation that was seen in Seattle more frequently. Jordan Hamilton and Ben Spencer will also factor in, though it is not especially encouraging for the former that he did not make a single appearance in the busy stretch the Reds have just completed.