One way or another, Danny Dichio hopes to get his head out of the clouds tomorrow when Toronto FC reaches the rarefied air of Colorado.
Sidelined with a concussion since July 1, Dichio is anxious to get back and help TFC's punchless offence, whose ineffectiveness has contributed to the club's six-game winless streak.
The trouble is that high altitudes can be the worst place for athletes coming off head injuries to test themselves.
"He will travel with us," a cautious coach John Carver said yesterday at BMO Field, "but at the end of the day, if I've waited this long for him, then two weeks won't make that much more difference."
As long as he doesn't suffer any ill effects on the plane ride this morning, Dichio seems willing to take something of a risk by training hard tonight and playing tomorrow against the Colorado Rapids in suburban Denver.
Dichio stayed away from heading the ball with any force yesterday, and huddled with club medical personnel for 20 minutes before speaking to reporters.
"We're getting towards a stage where you need as many hands on the pump as possible," Dichio said, with a nod to the club's increasingly threatened playoff position in Major League Soccer.
While defending against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Canada Day, Dichio took a heavy ball to the top of his head. Having been knocked cold a few times with no complications he was certain he'd get better, but the headaches wouldn't go away. It was only in past few days that he has had a string of symptom-free days that have allowed him to resume training.
"There was no timeline on when I could come back, unlike an ankle or knee (injury)," he said. "I've got to go through this because we have to travel a few more times this season. The quicker I work out whether I'm fine, the better it is for me and the team."
Carver and manager Mo Johnston's plans to import some scoring help and find in-house solutions have not been successful.
Last week's 2-0 loss to Dallas indicated the scoring malaise could spread to BMO. But Carver is also concerned about his team's ability in its own zone as well as late-game letdowns.
"We need to defend properly," he warned. "It has nothing to do with fitness tests. We have outrun, outjogged and outsprinted (most opponents), but the facts are there."
Dichio's return also is important for overall lineup numbers. Injuries, suspensions (Amado Guevara and Marco Velez are out tomorrow after red cards against Dallas) and loans to national teams have left Toronto with a lack of experienced players.
"Our back four will probably pick itself," Carver joked.
SIMPSON ON HOLD
Scarborough forward Dave Simpson trained with TFC this week, but the team is undecided about signing him and will take another look when it returns from Colorado next week. Simpson spent 2007 in Europe with Sparta Prague and on loan to Kladno.
"He did not jump up and hit me in the face," Carver said in assessing Simpson's performance thus far.
YANKEES DOING DANDY
TFC's Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne had roles in Team USA's 1-0 win over Japan yesterday in the preliminary round of the Beijing Olympics soccer tournament.
Wynne assisted on Stuart Holden's goal, while Edu did well in the unfamiliar position of central defender.
"(Nathan) Sturgis got injured and (Jonathan) Spector is out, so there's a little bit of a need there," Edu said of playing at his new post.