Toronto missing key players vs. Galaxy (Sep 16, 2017)

Toronto FC will try to prove Saturday that they can succeed without stars Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.

Giovinco (quadriceps strain) and Altidore (undisclosed lower-body injury) will be absent as the Major League Soccer-leading Reds (17-3-8) visit the struggling L.A. Galaxy (7-14-6) at StubHub Center. The dynamic duo has produced 28 of Toronto’s goals this season, with Giovinco netting 15 and Altidore adding 13.

“We’re not going to take them across the country at this point,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney told reporters this week. “(We’ll) give them a few days to progress and reassess when we get back for Wednesday (against Montreal.)”

In the meantime, Toronto will try to move closer to clinching its first Supporters’ Shield and break the records held by the Galaxy.

With six games remaining in the regular season, the Reds, once a league laughing stock, have 59 points and are in contention to surpass the single-season record of 68 set by the Galaxy in 1999.

The record was set in a 32-game season. The league schedule now comprises 34 games, and some observers hope Toronto can make history within 32 games. The Reds are also in contention for fewest losses in an MLS season (four losses, set on three different occasions) and most wins in the post-shootout era (20 wins, 2014 Seattle Sounders).

On the other hand, the Galaxy sit 10 points out of a playoff berth with seven games remaining. Los Angeles will also be missing two key players as Jermaine Jones and Romain Alessandrini serve suspensions for yellow-card accumulation.

Based on comments that coach Sigi Schmid made earlier this season, their absence could have an effect on the Galaxy. Schmid groused that the Galaxy have a “leadership void.”

“Toronto is going to be a big challenge in our home, but we just have to get ready for that one,” Galaxy midfielder Ema Boateng told the team’s website.

While Giovinco and Altidore have combined for 28 goals, Toronto also received 29 markers from other players. Hence, L.A. coach Schmid is not assuming that his club’s chances will be improved because they are away.

“Greg Vanney is a great friend and someone that I’ve known from my UCLA (coaching) days and when he played for me for the Galaxy,” Schmid told the Galaxy’s website. “He’s a great guy and a great coach and (has) done very well with that team. They’re confident and they won’t miss a beat not having those two players. They have a good team chemistry and have kept their group together.”

However, the Galaxy’s team chemistry is very much in question — and will be put to the test again Saturday.