Toronto FC vies for first-ever road win vs. FC Dallas (Jul 01, 2017)

BY AP • June 30, 2017

If there was ever a time for Toronto FC to capture a road win versus FC Dallas, it will be on Saturday when the two sides meet at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

FC Dallas has owned Toronto FC, winning eight of the matches all time against the MLS' best team this season, including a 6-0-2 mark in the games played in the Lone Star State.

But Toronto FC is peaking right now, having just beaten Montreal for the Canadian Championship and forging the league's best mark (10-2-7, 35 points) through its first 17 matches.

"What's great for us is this was a very meaningful event in the middle of the year," Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney said of his team's Voyageurs Cup win.

"Sometimes in a long MLS season, you're trying to find these moments that you build up as really important moments, because you want to prepare your team ultimately for the end game which is the playoffs, which are very different from the regular season.

"It gives you that midseason sense of urgency that you have to try to win something. Because in MLS, when there's 34 games, it's very hard to find the moment that is a really decisive moment."

All that momentum aside, the fact that FC Dallas will be without three of its best players for the match between two of MLS's marquee teams could tip the scales in favor of the visitors.

FC Dallas (6-3-7, 25 points and tied for second place in the Western Conference after 16 matches) will not have midfielder Kelly Acosta and defender Matt Hedges, who are with the U.S. men's national team. Defender Walker Zimmerman is still out with a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Toronto keeps its U.S. national team players Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley while losing midfielders Armando Cooper (who is on international duty with Panama), Raheem Edwards, Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts (all on international team duty for Canada) and defender Justin Morrow, who is away with the U.S. national team.

Also out for Toronto FC is defender Nick Hagglund with a torn MCL. Hagglund has already been forced to miss six matches as a result of the injury, sustained on May 13 against Minnesota United.

It's the only regular season meeting between the teams in 2017. Both sides will be playing their second game in five days, after each had wins in domestic cup matches on Tuesday night. The teams have met one time each MLS season since 2012, with Dallas picking up at least a point in four of those five matches.

Mauro Diaz is back for FC Dallas and he has jumpstarted the team's attack once again, but it may take more that Diaz's magic for the home side to solve Toronto FC.

Diaz scored for the first time this season in FC Dallas' 3-1 U.S. Open Cup round of 16 win over Colorado on Tuesday, marking his first time to hit the net since a devastating Achilles injury he sustained in the 2016's final regular-season match.

"Mauro kept growing on his rhythm," Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said of Diaz's play on Tuesday. "I'm seeing him more often on the ball and not just creating a good play and waiting for more minutes to create another one. His frequency is increasing. His talent is intact, and that made us all feel very happy for him and the team. He had a great game."

Toronto has only beaten Dallas twice in 15 all-time meetings, the first-ever matchup and the most recent game last season in Canada. FC Dallas averages 1.9 goals per home game against Toronto and has shut out Toronto three times.

No MLS team has a better goal differential than Toronto FC, with 30 goals scored and only 15 conceded.

Toronto FC has encountered some difficulty on the road, collecting 12 of a possible 24 road points with a goal differential of zero. Toronto FC lost 3-0 to New England in its most recent road match, a defeat that snapped a three-match road unbeaten streak and ended a six-game road scoring streak.

Meanwhile, Dallas has continued to have success in Frisco, dropping only one home match out of eight.


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