But as Toronto (7-5-3) nears the halfway point of its 2014 schedule, its revamped roster has offered manager Ryan Nelsen selection choices.
Excluding Brazil No. 1 goalie Julio Cesar (loan status up in the air after the World Cup) and Canadian midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran (since traded to Montreal), Nelsen and GM Tim Bezbatchenko brought in 11 players since the end of last season. All but teenage striker Jordan Hamilton (on loan to Wilmington) and veteran attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario have become starters or seen significant minutes.
Nelsen will have to dig into that depth Wednesday for the visit of the Vancouver Whitecaps (6-4-7). Captain Steven Caldwell is out after tearing his quad muscle in Saturday's 4-2 comeback win over the Houston Dynamo.
The Scottish centre back was due to undergo a scan Tuesday to assess the extent of the damage but Nelsen said it could be "several weeks." With four league games and a high-profile friendly against Tottenham remaining this month, the timing is unfortunate.
"When you put a squad together, you have to think of worst-case scenarios, not just best[case scenarios." Nelsen said philosophically.
In Caldwell's absence, Nelsen will likely choose two of Doneil Henry, rookie Nick Hagglund and veteran Bradley Orr. He said he's happy with any permutation of the three.
"The guys have done so well it's given myself a very, very big headache, which is good," said Nelsen.
Hagglund and Henry played together against Columbus the last time Caldwell was unavailable. Hagglund was paired with Orr when both Caldwell and Henry were unavailable in an earlier game against the Crew.
Toronto will get little sympathy from the Whitecaps, who played without injured centre backs Jay DeMerit and Andy O'Brien in their 3-1 weekend loss to Chivas USA. Plus fullback Jordan Harvey was sent off in the game, meaning he will have to sit out the Toronto contest.
Nelsen has other selection choices to make. Jermain Defoe and Luke Moore have made for an effective strike force, leaving Brazil's Gilberto having to make do with coming off the bench.
Gilberto has the big salary at US$1.2 million. But Moore is making his presence felt on the pitch, his holdup play combining well with the speed and guile of Defoe.
Defoe has 10 goals (on 41 shots), Moore three (on 10 shots) and Gilberto one (on 24 shots).
"It doesn't matter who you are ... If you play well, you'll play," said Nelsen. "You try and keep everybody unhappy but unfortunately what generally happens is when you get bigger and better squads, more people get disappointed."
In midfield, Michael Bradley has his own spot reserved when healthy. Collen Warner has the edge for the other central midfield role.
"Collen Warner, to be blatantly honest, has been even more than I've expected," said Nelsen. "He's such a fantastic player, such a fantastic guy. He gives us a physicality, an athleticism and a technical ability that we didn't have. He complements the other guys in the squad really well."
Brazilian winger Jackson, Dominic Oduro, Canadian Jonathan Osorio and Orr are competing for the other two midfield spots. Rookie winger Daniel Lovitz offers a different creative look coming off the bench.
"Good competition now," Nelsen said contentedly
Canadians De Rosario and Kyle Bekker, and veteran Jeremy Hall seem to have fallen down the pecking order.
Toronto has not finished remaking its squad. Nelsen noted the club has salary cap space and stands atop the allocation ladder.
"Hopefully the MLS will sign a nice younger player and we're in the No. 1 spot," he said.
Bradley, who was rested last week, trained Tuesday although he begged off media duties saying he was not feeling well.
"He could be close," said Nelsen.
The Whitecaps, in the midst of their own July schedule grind, visit Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Toronto heads to Houston for a rematch.Suggest a correction