Toronto - Three matches into his reign at the helm of Toronto FC, Head Coach Ryan Nelsen has already had to contend with the absence of several keys players due to injury.
Sophomore attacking midfielder Luis Silva and goalkeeper Stefan Frei have not yet played due to injury, but both are back in full training and are expected to see game action very soon.
Midfielder Julio Cesar, a key offseason acquisition for the club, is also yet to play for the Reds. The former Sporting Kansas City stalwart is also expected to see his first game action in the next couple of weeks as Toronto returns to training and playing matches on grass after kicking off their 2013 campaign with three straight fixtures on artificial turf.
“Physically, I am feeling very good. I have had a bit of a problem with my calf and to train on the turf is a little bit hard for me,” Cesar told MLSSoccer.com. “I think I am close and I am prepared to help the team.”
While he has not yet played a minute for his new team, the 34 year old Brazilian is not overly concerned that his TFC debut has been delayed. Furthermore, the former Real Madrid, AC Milan, Benfica and Bolton Wanderers player sees his role with TFC as one that transcends what he has to offer on the pitch in matches.
“The season is a long one. It is not only two or three games. I am focused on the challenging games that are coming up, so I can help my teammates. There are many games to play and it will be a very hard summer,” Cesar said.
“I don’t only focus my job on the field. My job is off the pitch as well, to help my younger teammates and the guys that have just come to the MLS. I try to use my experience as a veteran player on and off the field. My job is not only about ninety minutes on the field for a match. It is also important to be part of preparing the team in training and off the field. A team that is successful off the pitch is a team that will be a success on the field.”
Cesar spent the previous two seasons as a key defensive player for a Sporting Kansas City side that finished first overall in the Eastern Conference in 2011 and 2012. He also played a vital role in Kansas City winning the 2012 US Open Cup title.
As a veteran player who has enjoyed success in the MLS and with major clubs in Europe, Cesar likes what he has seen so far from Toronto FC under the leadership of Nelsen.
“I have been here for two months and I have seen that Ryan is very hungry to change the history from the last year. I like his mentality and the plan that he has.” Cesar said.