Toronto FC is enjoying its longest unbeaten run in four years.
The chances of continuing it against a D.C. United team missing its top scorer seem to be good.
Toronto is also unbeaten in its last four matchups against United heading into this one Saturday night at home.
Toronto (6-4-3) drew 1-1 at Chicago on Wednesday to run its unbeaten streak to 3-0-3. It is the club's longest such streak since a 4-0-4 stretch May 8-July 10, 2010.
The latest solid performance came even though TFC was forced to play with 10 men since forward Luke Moore was sent off in the 29th minute after leading with an elbow on a challenge with Chris Ritter.
"Before the sending off, I thought we played very well," coach Ryan Nelsen told the club's official website. "We controlled the game and dictated it. We had to be extremely disciplined for 60 minutes and in the end, stay compact."
D.C. (7-5-4) played for the first time without Fabian Espindola in last Saturday's 1-0 loss to Seattle. Espindola, who leads the club with seven goals and eight assists, will be out for at least six weeks due to a strained knee ligament suffered in a 4-2 win at Montreal on June 11.
Without him, D.C. was shut out for just the second time in its last 14 games. Coach Ben Olsen is trying to maintain a positive outlook without his biggest offensive threat.
"We can score goals without Fabi," Olsen said. "We've had a lot of guys contribute in some form or fashion. Have we relied maybe too heavily on him? Yeah, absolutely, but we'll be OK."
Toronto is enjoying a 3-0-1 run in this series, including a 1-0 victory March 22. Jermain Defoe had the goal in his home debut.
Defoe has a goal or an assist in each match of TFC's six-game unbeaten streak.
That stretch has come without star midfielder Michael Bradley, who had been with the United States at the World Cup. Bradley is back now and is expected to play after the Americans lost 2-1 in extra time to Belgium on Tuesday.
Toronto is without Brazilian forward Gilberto, who has a hip flexor injury.
Defender Doneil Henry sat out against the Fire after he started the previous three matches, including a 2-2 draw at New York last Friday. He figures to return this weekend.
"Doneil had a knock from Friday's game (and) we've got a lot of games coming up," Nelsen said.
Nelsen won't have to replace Moore, who won't be suspended since his red card has been rescinded.
D.C. is hoping that former U.S. forward Eddie Johnson can get untracked since the United newcomer has one goal in 13 games.
Olsen insists it will take a team effort to win in Canada.
"I think we need to continue to do what we did here at home," Olsen said. "But a little bit more class, a little bit more composure in the final third with the final ball, the last touch."
- Sports & Recreation
- Toronto FC
- Ryan Nelsen
- D.C. United