Backline Depth Set To Be Tested

Injuries, suspension provide potential challenges for Saturday.

Toronto FC will enter the busiest period of its 2013 schedule to date with three consecutive draws before taking on Houston Dynamo, Saturday at BMO Field (4 p.m. ET on TSN – Tickets).

It will be the start of six games in 18 days in four cities over two competitions, and it will take place at the same time that injuries and suspensions are set to test the depth of Ryan Nelsen’s squad.

Toronto entered last Saturday’s match in Philadelphia without Richard Eckersley. Darel Russell kept his place at right back and Ashtone Morgan entered the match at his favoured left fullback position but neither would finish the game. Russell came off with hamstring tightness in the opening minutes and Morgan was sent off two minutes from regulation.

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With Morgan certainly out, Toronto will be looking for relief hoping Eckersley or Russell can overcome their hamstring woes. If they can’t, Nelsen will be reluctant to break up the central pairing of Darren O’Dea and Gale Agbossoumonde – with Danny Califf in relief – leaving him with outside positions to fill on the backline.

Of Nelsen’s wide choices, Ryan Richter came in against Philadelphia to play on the right. Other candidates for fullback include midfielder Jeremy Hall and centre backs Logan Emory and Doneil Henry, all three players have spent time out wide in a Toronto shirt in previous seasons.  

In past years a lack of depth at the back cost Toronto dearly. On Saturday, up against MLS Cup Finalist Houston, Reds will be out to prove they are better equipped to handle squad challenges in 2013.