Tony Tchani
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Crew SC mulling options to replace suspended midfielder Tchani

Columbus Crew SC will be without half of its central midfield pairing when it plays host to Toronto FC on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; TWC SportsChannel) after it was announced Thursday that Tony Tchani was suspended for a tackle in last weekend's loss to the Houston Dynamo.

Tchani's tackle originally resulted in a yellow card, but the MLS Disciplinary Committee gave him a one-match suspension and an undisclosed fine.

"Obviously it's disappointing, but if the League is cracking down on these type of fouls and it's going to be consistent, then I support it," Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter told media Thursday. "We want player safety, first and foremost, and if they feel that his tackle was an infringement on that, then he should be punished."

Berhalter said he and the team were notified Wednesday and declined to give an opinion on the foul itself.

To replace Tchani, Berhalter said he's considering the likes of Mohammed Saeid, Kevan George, Kristinn Steindorsson and Hector Jimenez and has not made a decision.

"We have some options," he said. "We'll have to see how it all shakes out."

Tchani's midfield partner Wil Trapp said the team has prepared for absences of himself or Tchani. And while Trapp said the team is "plenty prepared," the Cameroonian's suspension will certainly be felt.

"It's a loss," he said. "Tony is obviously one of the best midfielders in the league, and he's a great player for us. So it's not great not having him in there, but at the same time we can adjust and I think we'll be fine."

If the newly acquired Saeid, presumably added for depth behind Trapp and Tchani, gets the start Saturday, Trapp says he'll bring confidence on the ball and plenty of skill.

"I like Mo a lot; he's a very technical and very smart soccer player," Trapp said. "He's very crafty and can get out of a lot of things. No matter who's in that role, it's huge to have someone who's confident on the ball."

And while none of the possible replacements can match Tchani's size and physicality, Trapp said they won't be changing their formula and will be focusing on not letting the likes of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco run free.

"No matter the case, even if Tony is in there, we have to tackle hard and throw our weight around in a smart way," he said. "But hopefully we have the ball a lot more, so we don't get into too many track-meet situations where they're running up and down and hurting us athletically because they have some good athletes."


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