Toronto FC aims to remain hot versus D.C. United (Jun 17, 2017)
A well-rested Toronto FC team will look to maintain its lead in the Eastern Conference against last-place D.C. United at BMO Field on Saturday night.
Then things get hairy.
After being one of 16 teams to sit out league play last weekend because of the international match window, Saturday marks the beginning of a six-match, 19-day stretch for Toronto (8-2-5). Four of those games are in the league, and the other two are a home-and-away Canadian Cup Championship series against the Montreal Impact.
Two matches come with just one off day between them.
"I can't recall it in MLS," coach Greg Vanney said of TFC's upcoming schedule to the Toronto Sun. "We'll try to put together our group in ways we feel like we can get the appropriate results."
Additionally, midfield captain Michael Bradley played two complete games with the United States in the past two weeks. American forward Jozy Altidore also played in the U.S. World Cup qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico in a more limited role.
Anything less than a victory against D.C. United (4-7-3) would be a disappointment for Toronto, which had gone eight matches unbeaten (7-0-1) before crashing to a 3-0 away defeat at New England on June 3.
Toronto has scored more than double the goals of D.C. United (26 to 10) and has earned almost twice as many points per match (1.93 to 1.07)
D.C. defeated amateur side Christos FC 4-1 in U.S. Open Cup play Tuesday, but has gone six consecutive MLS matches without scoring a non-penalty-kick goal.
And the Black and Red remain without striker Patrick Mullins (knee) until at least mid-July.
That said, United has created better chances in its last two matches, and out possessed and outshot the LA Galaxy in their 0-0 draw at RFK Stadium on June 3.
And after failing to win their last four at home, a road trip may ease tension around a club that has reached the playoffs in the last three seasons.
"No one really expects us to do so well, but we know we need the points," D.C. midfielder Lloyd Sam told the Washington Post. "There's no real pressure on us. Sometimes this is when we play the best -- when no one expects anything from us."