A new cliché needs to be invented because "from bad to worse" doesn’t quite do proper justice in describing the current state of Toronto FC.
Maybe "from bad to catastrophic" is more appropriate considering Reds defender Adrian Cann on Tuesday was ruled out for the remainder of the 2011 Major League Soccer season with a torn ACL.
Cann, a 30-year-old native of Thornhill, Ont., suffered the right knee injury during a morning practice. The team’s medical staff examined him and Cann underwent an MRI later in the day at a local hospital that confirmed the tear in his knee.
A club official told CBCSports.ca that Cann is currently resting at home, and that surgery will be required, but nothing has been scheduled yet.
It would appear that the artificial turf at Cherry Beach field, where the team trained, may have been a contributing factor. Cann was participating in a routine drill when his knee buckled under him as he made a turn.
The loss of Cann, the team’s MVP from a season ago, is a huge blow for a struggling TFC side that is mired in a four-game winless streak, boasts a woeful 2-5-6 record, and is coming off an embarrassing home loss on Saturday.
Cann has played and started in 12 of TFC’s 13 regular season games this season. He also ranked second on the team in minutes played with 988. Only goalkeeper Stefan Frei, with 1170, had played more.
Cann sat out the last match, a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union, and his absence was more than noticeable, as the Reds conceded a franchise-high six goals.
Errant passes played out of the back, missed marking assignments and silly giveaway were the norm. Ty Harden, who played in place of Cann, again proved to be a defensive liability, as did left full back Dan Gargan.
Without Cann by his side, central defender Dicoy Williams looked completely out of his depth in trying to anchor the defence.
Philadelphia’s six goal outburst resulted in TFC assuming the worst defensive record in the 18-team league, with 23 goals against.
Now Toronto will have to make do without Cann and Williams, who will be away for the next two weeks on international duty for Jamaica at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman is also away competing at the Gold Cup.
With two of his starting defenders unavailable, TFC coach Aron Winter may have no option but to continue to play Harden in the middle of defence. Another possibility is Canadian Nana Attakora, a regular starter for the club last year, who has seen limited action this season. Or maybe he’ll draft midfielder Nathan Sturgis into defence.
Those are all immediate fixes.
Looking at TFC’s long-term situation, Winter will have to delve into the transfer market or make a trade with another MLS club in order to shore up his back line.
"It is a disappointment because Adrian has had a good start to the season and has been playing well, we will certainly miss his presence in the line-up. While it is difficult there is now an opportunity for younger players like Nana Attakora and others," Winter said in a media release.
Tuesday’s incident at Cherry Beach, an outdoor facility in Toronto near Lake Ontario, also means Cann won’t be available for national team duty when Canada’s World Cup qualifying campaign begins in September.