Toronto FC and D.C. United occupy the bottom two spots in the Eastern Conference standings, and neither club has any shot of playing in the MLS postseason.
That's part of the reason D.C. coach Ben Olsen is especially looking forward to his club's U.S. Open Cup final next week.
United will play many of their reserves Saturday when they visit Toronto, which will be without suspended coach Ryan Nelsen.
D.C (3-20-6) has the league's fewest points and has five opportunities to avoid setting the MLS record for fewest victories, currently held by a four-win Chivas USA team in 2005.
It fell to 0-5-2 over its last seven matches with last Saturday's 2-1 loss at New England. United's 19 goals scored are six behind Toronto's 25 for the league's fewest.
"We're missing a winning mentality, and that's normal when you go through six months of losing," Olsen said while appearing on KickTV's The Best Soccer Show this week.
With D.C.'s disappointing MLS season winding down, Olsen admitted his team has shifted its focus to playing Real Salt Lake for the U.S. Open Cup title Tuesday. He didn't specify who will and won't play against Toronto, but he alluded to plenty of his starters resting for next week's match.
"I'd be lying if I said we're not putting more importance on the Tuesday game," Olsen said. "We're essentially putting two teams out there - one for Toronto and one for Salt Lake. Unfortunately, we have that luxury because of the situation we are in with the league (standings)."
Olsen also isn't downplaying the possibility his job may be in jeopardy if the team doesn't show improvement next season.
"There's been nothing but support from ownership," Olsen said. "At the same time, support from ownership only goes so far. At some point, I'm going to have to show results and that's what we'll be looking forward to doing next year."
He'll be on the sidelines Saturday, but Nelsen won't be able to join his club as he'll serve a suspension after being ejected from last Saturday's 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City for arguing with officials.
Assistant coach Fran O'Leary also has been suspended for his ejection. Assistant Jim Brennan will guide Toronto (4-15-11), which will look to end a 0-5-3 winless stretch.
Toronto also will be without midfielder Jonathan Osorio as he serves the second of his two-game suspension, and striker Danny Koevermans likely is out for the season due to a calf injury.
The 34-year-old Koevermans has appeared in only four games this season because of various injuries while attempting to get back to full strength after tearing his ACL last season.
"Danny is probably out for the season," Nelsen said. "He unfortunately just can't get over that last hurdle. It is a shame and I feel bad for Danny. I also feel bad for everybody because we really needed him."
Toronto beat D.C. 2-1 on June 15 before the teams played to a 1-all draw Aug. 24. United leading scorer Dwayne De Rosario had a goal in each contest.
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- Ben Olsen
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