Toronto FC may have lost its most potent offensive weapon when all-star Ronnie O'Brien tore a medial collateral ligament in his knee on the very first day the expansion Major League Soccer team practised on the new turf at BMO Field.
Brien was flown to a specialist in Dallas yesterday --just three days before TFC is to launch its premier MLS season against Chivas USA in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Coach Mo Johnston was visibly upset when he talked about the injury to his star midfielder.
"Right now we are looking at four to six weeks before he could be back," coach Mo Johnston said. "He wanted to be sent to Dallas (where O'Brien lives in the off-season) so that's where we sent him.
"I am very disappointed and he is very disappointed."
O'Brien joins first overall MLS draft pick Maurice Edu, defender Marco Reda, forward Conor Casey and defender Chris Pozniak on the injury list.
"My biggest concern, obviously, is with Ronnie," Johnston said. "But on the bright side we now have (Andy) Welsh, who is going to give defenders fits"
Welsh, who had been on the roster of Sunderland in the English premiership, signed a deal this week to play for TFC this season.
FILL THE HOLE
Johnston said he will sub Welsh with Brazilian midfielder Paulo Nagamura to help fill the hole left by O'Brien.
But as significant as the setback of losing O'Brien may be, Johnston still expressed confidence that TFC will come out of Los Angeles with a win Saturday.
"This is a group of guys that can win some games and I expect nothing less than to have some points when we leave Los Angeles Saturday night," Johnston said. "I think our coaches have done a helluva job bringing in players capable of winning at the MLS level."