Reds Roll With Smaller Squad

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
Club v. Country

Missing first team regulars to international duty, suspension and injury, a depleted Toronto FC will host Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at BMO Field (TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET).

"I suppose it's not difficult to work the team out," head coach Paul Mariner said jokingly Tuesday. The Reds are without defenders Darren O'Dea, Doneil Henry and Dicoy Williams, midfielder Terry Dunfield and forward Ryan Johnson - all away to play for their respective countries. Centre back Logan Emory is suspended and fullback Jeremy Hall will be nursing an ankle knock. Asked if he could have recalled some of the players away to take part in friendlies, Mariner adamantly said "I always want our players to play for their national teams." The coach highlighted Canada international Dunfield in particular, noting "he loves his country with an unbelievable passion and it's important that he plays for his country."

A Good Opportunity

One player who could benefit with so many away is centre back Adrian Cann. The local defender once provided a steady presence on the Toronto backline until an ACL tear forced him to the sidelines early in the 2011 season.

"It's a good opportunity for players to step up," Cann told the gathering media at the Kia Training Ground on Tuesday. Another former regular on defence, Ty Harden, could fill an additional void on the backline alongside Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan. Cann had returned earlier this season only to be sidelined again with a knee injury. The Canadian hopes to make the most of his newfound opportunity. "I'm a competitor," Cann continued, "I'm always up for matches, getting stuck in. I'm excited."

Finding His Way

Another player looking to "find his way" back to the starting lineup on Wednesday is Eric Avila. The creative midfielder has seen his appearances decrease with the rise of rookie Luis Silva. The two California natives could have a chance to work together against Portland.

Happy to lineup with the starters at the training pitch day before the match, Avila said "it's always nice to come in and start, and get back in the system." Though he admits the squad is missing many key players, he feels those available to take on the Timbers are capable of putting in a positive performance. "(Portland) is a team that's trying to bounce back ... but we have important players that can take over."

Well Prepared

Toronto had its weekend match in Columbus postponed, giving the Reds an unlikely break and some extra time to prepare as they embark on a stretch of six games in 18 days leading into the next international round. Toronto enters the match on 19 points from 22 games, one behind Portland.

Goalkeeper Milos Kocic believes Toronto will benefit from the rest regardless of the missing players. "We practiced hard," Kocic said. "We had good sessions last week and we were ready for Saturday." Unfortunately for Toronto - as Kocic noted - some of the preparations were made with players that are now absent. The keeper trusts the rest of his squad to come through. "I feel confident the guys will come out (Wednesday) and show what kind of a team we are."

The Opposition

The Officials

Geoff Gamble will be the match referee. He will be assisted by Claudio Badea and Kevin Klinger. Gamble's MLS career has seen him in charge of 16 games, during which he has averaged 23.6 fouls called and 3.4 yellow cards. Gamble has awarded nine penalties in that time and sent off two players. Abbey Okulaja is the fourth official.