Toronto FC-Chivas USA Preview
Toronto FC had enough going against it before captain Darren O'Dea abruptly decided to accept an international transfer.
Its recent history against Chivas USA hasn't been all that favorable, either.
Toronto tries to end a four-match winless streak in the series and earn its first road win against Chivas when two of the more disappointing teams in MLS meet Wednesday night.
The only victory for Toronto (2-9-7) over its last 16 league matches came at MLS-worst D.C. on June 15. It has gone 0-2-2 since after falling 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, getting shut out for the third time in that stretch.
Just prior to that contest, coach Ryan Nelsen informed the club over a pregame meal that O'Dea had gone back to Toronto to finalize a transfer and no longer would be with the team.
Nelsen wasn't sure if that disheartening news had an impact on his club's performance.
"I don't know. Maybe, maybe not," he said. "But they are professional players and they have to do a job. That's what they get paid to do, so I don't think it would have had an impact."
O'Dea's departure will be difficult to overcome, though Nelsen said it will open some opportunities for the rebuilding club that also traded midfielder Luis Silva to D.C. for allocation money last week.
"(O'Dea) got a contract from Ukraine, and it was one he couldn't turn down," said Nelsen, whose team is tied for the fewest wins in MLS. "Darren is the most expensive (defender) in the whole league in terms of the salary cap, so it frees up some things for us. But, it's going to have some short-term pains."
Toronto is 0-3-1 in its last four meetings with Chivas and has scored just one goal while dropping all five road meetings in the series, but Nelsen is hoping his squad can regroup in the face of adversity.
"This is when you really measure the true character of guys," Nelsen said. "It is very easy when things are going well. It is when your backs are against the wall that you have to find out the steel of a player and a person. These are all tests."
Chivas (3-11-5) has been outscored 32-10 while going 0-10-4 in MLS play since beating Vancouver 2-1 on March 30. It fell 3-1 at Philadelphia on Friday to complete a three-game, 10-day road swing.
"First of all, it's nice to be home," goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. "After a long road trip, a productive road trip, we go against a team that's in the same position we're in. We're both fighting, struggling for results and I expect it to be a good match, but we need to put a stamp on the game and get a victory."
Chivas is 0-4-2 over its last six at home, while Toronto is 1-6-2 on the road in league play.