When Toronto FC announced Monday that Jermain Defoe would miss approximately 2-3 weeks with a groin strain, it only confirmed what they already knew. Head coach Ryan Nelson admitted to the media on Saturday that his star striker had been dealing with groin issues for the last few weeks.
Defoe has been removed from the MLS All-Star Game roster, although this is the least of Toronto FC’s concerns. He will now miss vital games against the Columbus Crew and the reigning MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.
Toronto FC were already struggling defensively, with key injuries to captain Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom. The last thing they needed was to lose the services of a player who has scored 11 of the team’s 29 goals.
The question is, can TFC survive without their leading goalscorer as they enter a key period of the season? With Bright Dike still out with a torn achilles, they only have two forwards to call on – Gilberto and Luke Moore. (Andrew Wiedeman was also inactive at the weekend for the game in Montreal.)
Moore is second on the team with four goals (and one assist) in 11 starts, but it is Gilberto who Nelson and company will really be leaning on in the coming weeks. The designated player has three goals so this season, also in 11 starts.
However, it should be noted that Gilberto’s three goals have come in his last seven appearances for Toronto FC. Especially encouraging, two of the strikes have come in his last three games, including this effort at the weekend against the Montreal Impact:
When Gilberto first arrived as one of Toronto’s three designated players, a lot of people knew little about him. The 25-year old was described by Nelson as a powerful striker with a great deal of speed and the ability to score all kinds of goals.
Now with the absence of Defoe, Gilberto gets the chance to repay the faith of TFC management. Fans will be hoping he lives up to his potential and helps the team take a step closer to finally qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.