VAUGHAN -- As if things weren't bad enough for Toronto FC, which has not potted a goal in a record seven games of league play.
Yesterday the team lost Danny Dichio -- its most dangerous scorer -- for at least three weeks and quite likely the rest of the Major League Soccer season.
The big striker had been battling for a ball with midfielder Tyler Hemming in practice on Tuesday at the Ontario Soccer Centre, when the pair tangled with Dichio coming up limping.
What at first was thought to be only a bruise turned into a badly sprained metatarsal bone in Dichio's right foot.
Preliminary X-rays showed no break but a subsequent MRI done yesterday showed the damage severe enough to require a two-to-three week rehabilitation assignment.
With only six games left on the MLS calendar -- including a game Saturday at Dallas -- it is suspected that Dichio will join Jeff Cunningham, Ronnie O'Brien and Greg Sutton on the sidelines until the start of the 2008 season.
"We're not too hopeful," TFC manager Mo Johnston said yesterday. "We are looking at two-to-three weeks before he can even get back on the pitch so it doesn't look too good for him for the rest of the season.
"There is no use in us playing the big man because at the end of the day we have to take care of him. We want him back healthy for next season."
It marks the third successive injury for Dichio, who has been a fan favourite at BMO Field since his first game when he recorded the franchise's first goal and the team's first red card in the same match.
A bruised back and then a hip flexor forced Johnston to sit Dichio for two full games and use him only sparingly in four others since the team's 1-1 tie with Chicago on July 7.
While TFC still has a mathematical chance at a wild card playoff spot -- which will disappear if D.C. United beats Chivas USA tonight -- Johnston now is fully focused on building on his core players for 2008.
"When we start the (2008) season with a healthy Dichio, Cunningham, O'Brien and Sutton as well as a rested Carl Robinson and Collin Samuel, we will have a pretty impressive nucleus of players," he said.
Johnston also said yesterday that he has come to terms on a two-year contract extension for team captain Jimmy Brennan.
"Jimmy has been spectacular for us in the back," he said. "And when we had to move him to the midfield due to injuries he has been good there too."
The 30-year-old Brennan returned to his Toronto home this season to play for TFC after a solid 10-year career in England on four clubs, most notably Nottingham Forest and Norwich City.
Johnston said he also is in negotiations to transfer goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos from Tromso in Norway.
Stamatopoulos has been on loan to TFC since the midway point of the season but still has a year left on his Tromso contract.