Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney and his players are doing their best to remain positive during the club's longest winless stretch in six seasons. One that began with a loss to Atlanta United FC.
Keeping that slide from reaching nine games won't be easy as TFC tries to prevent visiting Atlanta from winning its third straight contest Wednesday night.
Things started promising for Toronto (5-7-4), with wins in its first three games and 10 points over the first four. However, TFC has won just twice since then and been outscored 15-5 during an 0-5-3 stretch since winning 2-0 at Orlando City on May 4.
"We're in this together," goalkeeper Quentin Westberg told Toronto's official website. "We win together, we lost together."
Toronto lost big Saturday, 3-0 at FC Dallas. The game was scoreless through 40 minutes before Dallas scored right before half and twice over a seven-minute stretch early in the second half.
Despite being blanked for the fourth time during the club's current winless stretch - the longest since twice going at least eight matches without a victory in 2013, TFC enters this matchday still above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
"It's just making sure that we're all having the same conversations moving forward, about what we need to do in the next game and we just need to clean a few things up," Vanney said.
As TFC attempts to do that, they are without the likes of key contributors in Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio away on international duty. Bradley and Osorio featured in Toronto's 2-0 loss at Atlanta on May 8.
All-Star Josef Martinez assisted on both goals. First, from Hector Villalba in the 17th minute and Julian Gressel in the 67th. Midfielders Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez, and keeper Brad Guzan will join teammate Josef Martinez, who is playing for Venezuela at Copa America, when the MLS All-Stars face Atletico Madrid next month in Orlando.
Before then, Atlanta (8-5-2) returns to MLS action for the first time since a 2-0 home win over Chicago on June 1. The reigning MLS champs won their last two matches before the break, both at home, where they've not conceded a goal in five straight games.
On the road, however, Atlanta will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat after being outscored 3-1 in its last two away from home against the New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake. It will try to end that mini-road slide without Barco and Villalba, who, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, are dealing with knee injuries.
"We're on a good run (overall)," Guzan told Atlanta's official website. "(That) means nothing if we come back from (the) break and we throw it all away."
Toronto midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo was also named an MLS All-Star. He has five goals and eight assists in 13 matches, but only two assists in his last five contests.