May 26th, 2024

Insigne nearing a return for Toronto FC but Marshall-Rutty now on the sidelines

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 3, 2024.

Toronto FC head coach John Herdman shouts instructions from the sideline during second half MLS soccer action against the Vancouver Whitecaps, in Vancouver on April 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

TORONTO – Italian star Lorenzo Insigne, working his way back from a hamstring injury, was on the field with the rest of Toronto FC on Friday while fellow designated player Richie Laryea, recovering from hamstring surgery, was seen running with a trainer.

That was the good news, with Insigne possibly returning as early as next week. Laryea, who has not played since the Feb. 25 season opener, is still four to six weeks away.

But teenage wingback/winger Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty was absent from training. The 19-year-old, who came off in the 58th minute of Toronto’s 2-1 win at Orlando last Saturday, will be out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.

“Another blow,” said coach John Herdman. “But you just get used to it now. It’s part of what we’re dealing with.”

Citing the “limitations on our squad,” Herdman suggested that players like Marshall-Rutty have been pushed to their “red minutes” level.

“They’re right on the thresholds. And when you’ve got people at thresholds, there’s potential to break,” he said. “(I’m) gutted. But he’s a quick healer.”

Defender Shane O’Neill and midfielder Brandon Servania join Marshall-Rutty, Insigne and Laryea on TFC’s injury list ahead of Saturday’s visit by FC Dallas (2-5-2).

It’s the first meeting between the two teams since February 2022 when they drew 1-1 in Frisco, Texas. Toronto has not beaten Dallas since a 1-0 decision in July 2016 at BMO Field, going 0-3-1 since against the Texans.

Dallas, home to former TFC midfielder Liam Fraser and defender Omar Gonzalez, leads the career series with an 11-2-6 edge in league play.

But Toronto is looking down at Dallas in the current standings.

Toronto (5-4-1) goes into weekend play in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. While Dallas was 13th in the West, seven of its eight points collected to date came at home where it is 2-2-1.

TFC’s win at Orlando extended its unbeaten run in all competitions to three (3-0-0).

Dallas blanked Houston 2-0 last time out, ending a seven-game winless run (0-5-2) that followed a 2-1 win over San Jose in the Feb. 24 season opener.

While Dallas has also had injury problems of late, Herdman expects to see young designated player Jesus Ferreira back in the opposition lineup after a hamstring injury.

Herdman pointed to Ferreira and fellow U.S. international Paul Arriola as Dallas dangermen.

“That’s a really good combination. They’ve had many years in the U.S. team and at Dallas,” said the Toronto coach. “We know that when those two are on the pitch, this is a really dangerous team.”

“This game is a huge match for us,” he added. “We have to be super-disciplined and not take anything for granted.”

Herdman says work on his roster continues, with particular emphasis on finding young talent a place to play.

“Particularly If we feel they’d be better served getting minutes in other environments, if we can’t guarantee young players good minutes, they need to be playing,” he said.

“Wherever that will happen, we’ll make it happen “¦ Any player that isn’t a regular starter in our lineup, we may be looking for those loans,” Herdman added.

Canadian forwards Ayo Akinola and Jordan Perruzza were not at training Friday and are candidates to be loaned out again. Asked why, Herdman replied: “We’re pretty clear that their future needs to be away from Toronto FC to developer their careers.”

Both players spent part of last season out on loan.

The 24-year-old Akinola, who has seen just 82 minutes playing time in league action this season spread over five appearances, went to the San Jose Earthquakes last July.

The 23-year-old Perruzza, who has yet to see action with TFC’s first team this season, was loaned to Halifax Wanderers of the CPL last August.

As for the walking wounded, Herdman said Laryea was “progressing well.”

“He’s a good healer, Richie. He’s met every marker that he was supposed to meet.”

O’Neill, who has missed the last four games with a quad issue, is still some five weeks from returning. Servania is not expected back from knee surgery until mid-June or early July.

Insigne, who has not played since March 24, is not expected to be ready for next Wednesday’s Canadian Championship quarterfinal first leg at Ligue1 Quebec champion CS Saint-Laurent but could be ready for the April 11 visit of New York City FC.

“Fingers crossed,” said Herdman.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024,

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