There are two pressure points adding a little extra twist to yesterday’s news that Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei will require surgery to repair a broken nose.
TFC’s No. 1 was injured in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Columbus Crew at the ongoing Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando.
First is the team’s recent trade of quality goalkeeper Milos Kocic to Portland. It’s hard to criticize the decision, as two starting quality goalkeepers is hard to justify on an MLS roster given the restrictive salary cap. If he had not done so before, Kocic proved had had starter’s stuff during year-long fill-in duty in 2012.
The length of absence is undetermined. Last year, with Kocic in reserve, that would be of little worry. But now it’s on Joe Bendik, who has yet to prove his MLS chops. Bendik, 23, had three league starts as Portland’s backup last year.
The other pressure point here is Toronto’s fragile spot and how a little flagging form from the team’s goalkeeper might affect it. New manager Ryan Nelsen will need a good start to boost confidence around a club that can’t be expected to have much, a team that remains on the hunt for its first playoff berth.
Frei may well return in time for the Reds’ March 2 opener at Vancouver. But missing time in the interim – we are now 18 days from MLS first kick – is hardly ideal for a man who missed almost the entire previous campaign, as Frei did with a broken leg.