TORONTO — Star striker Sebastian Giovinco is questionable and, upon further review, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney is suspended for Saturday’s game against the visiting Colorado Rapids.
Giovinco is dealing with a lower back bruise sustained in the 2-2 midweek draw at New York City FC that saw Vanney ejected early in the second half.
Vanney got his marching orders Wednesday after telling referee Jorge Gonzalez: “You are having a shocker. This is a total embarrassment.”
The league, via a text shown to The Canadian Press, told Toronto around lunchtime Friday that Vanney would not be served with a one-game ban for the ejection. Hours later the league reversed that and told the club that Vanney was indeed suspended.
It appears Gonzalez thought Vanney had cursed him. Vanney initially thought the fact he didn’t had helped avoid the ban.
No explanation for the change of heart was immediately forthcoming, likely adding to Vanney’s confusion over the league’s administration of the rules.
Assistant coach Robin Fraser will run the sidelines Saturday.
Giovinco, who has already missed time this season with a quad strain, charley horse and bruised heel, lasted three-quarters of Friday’s training session before heading for more treatment.
“We’ll see how he’s feeling (Saturday) and get him moving around,” Vanney told reporters. “He’s doing much better today than he was yesterday.”
Giovinco was bolstered by a rousing reception from enthusiastic young day campers at the TFC training centre, many wearing his No. 10 shirt. The kids sang his name as the Italian walked out to meet them and pose for photos.
The Italian star has nine goals and four assists in 15 games this season and, when healthy, continues to torment defenders.
Toronto (11-3-6) could see Nick Hagglund back at the heart of the defence. The 24-year-old centre back has been out since May 13, when he tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in a 3-2 win over Minnesota. The injury occurred when six-foot-three, 195-pound goalkeeper Alex Bono inadvertently crashed into his knee going after a low cross.
“Nick’s green-lighted. He’s ready to go,” Vanney said of Hagglund, who has missed the team’s last eight league outings.
Hagglund was playing between Eriq Zavaleta and Chris Mavinga with Raheem Edwards and Tsubasa Endoh at wingback in the portion of training open to the media Friday. Ben Spencer and Jordan Hamilton were up top with Benoit Cheyrou, Marky Delgado and Jay Chapman in the midfield.
Toronto was due to get reinforcements Friday in the form of Canada’s Tosaint Ricketts and Jonathan Osorio and Panama’s Armando Cooper, whose international duties at the Gold Cup are done.
Captain Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Justin Morrow remain with the U.S. team.
Fullback Steven Beitashour continues his comeback from pancreas surgery resulting from a June 27 collision with Montreal’s Kyle Fisher in a Canadian Championship game. Tubes inserted to drain toxins and blood have been removed, with Vanney saying two to three weeks more healing is needed before Beitashour can start work on his fitness.
“For us the timeline is reasonable. We were hoping it wasn’t going to be longer,” said Vanney.
League-leading Toronto is looking to extend its unbeaten run (7-0-2) at BMO Field this season. Colorado (6-11-1) has yet to win on the road this season (0-7-0).
The Rapids have lost four of their last five games.
“They’ve had some injury problems,” said Vanney. “I look back at their lineups and they very rarely ever put the same lineup on the field twice.”
“They’re always a stingy team defensively,” he added.
Two TFC players could reach milestones Saturday. Veteran defender Drew Moor’s next outing will be his 350th regular season MLS game while fullback Ashtone Morgan is on No. 99.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press