Toronto FC-Real Salt Lake Preview


Toronto FC is off to the best start in team history, thanks in large part to Jermain Defoe.

Facing Real Salt Lake on the road could keep it from continuing.

Defoe looks to find the net again and help TFC to a third straight win by beating RSL as the visitor for the first time in nearly seven years Saturday night.

It hasn't taken Defoe long to make an impact for Toronto (2-0-0), scoring all three of its goals this season after a high profile - and lavish - move from Tottenham of the English Premier League.

The England national team forward scored again in last Saturday's 1-0 home win over D.C. He nearly added to his total in the second half, but hit the post on one of his seven shots - three of which were on target.

"You can't score every chance you get," Defoe told the team's official website. "You've just got to stay cool and wait for your next chance and when you get the next one, just make sure you score."

TFC would surely appreciate another productive performance from Defoe as it's lost five straight road games against Salt Lake (1-0-2) since a 2-1 victory July 4, 2007.

RSL is looking to continue its own strong start to 2014 after tying Los Angeles 1-all at home last weekend. However, the team will need to overcome the absence of Joao Plata, who said on his Twitter account that he's out for three weeks with a hamstring injury.

The forward has two goals through three games, so continued production from Alvaro Saborio could be key.

Saborio scored his first goal of the season last Saturday, and he has two in three career home meetings with TFC.

Saborio was unavailable at Toronto on June 29 due to international duty with Costa Rica, but Olmes Garcia filled in and assisted on a goal in the 1-0 win.

Garcia may find himself paired with Saborio this time after making his season debut off the bench last weekend.

Toronto is also dealing with some questions at forward, as Gilberto struggles with his fitness after suffering a hamstring injury during preseason. He had two shots - one on goal - in his team debut last Saturday.

"He's not 100 percent, won't be 100 percent for a good four, five games," coach Ryan Nelsen said. "All the other guys have had a bit of preseason but Gilberto hasn't. We need to get him up to speed fitness-wise, and obviously just give him minutes on the ball."

Gilberto's health may only increase the scoring onus on Defoe, and RSL will try to limit his chances after giving up four goals in the past two games.

"He's fast," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "Speed kills in this game, and when you're able to time your runs well like he does, he's able to get into good spots and he's clinical."