Impact-Toronto FC Preview
After falling short against the Western Conference's top team with a full roster, Toronto FC now has to face the East-leading Montreal Impact short-handed.
Toronto will have four players out due to international duty Wednesday night as it hosts Montreal, which will be without coach Marco Schallibaum for the third time this season.
Saturday's 1-0 loss to West-leading Real Salt Lake ended a three-game unbeaten streak for Toronto (2-8-6), which has gone winless in 13 of 14 league matches.
"All we want to do is play games, so when you have a disappointing result like (Saturday), the next one can't come soon enough," midfielder Jeremy Brockie said. "We look forward to Wednesday and hopefully we can get the three points."
Striker Danny Koevermans made his first start since suffering a knee injury last July after making two appearances as a substitute. Coach Ryan Nelsen said it's going to take some time for Koevermans to get adapted to playing extended minutes.
"It's tough for any player to come back from 12 months out," Nelsen said. "He just needs hard yards under his belt."
Koevermans' ability to start comes at an opportune time, as Toronto will be without defenders Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan, plus midfielders Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio on Wednesday as they prepare for the Gold Cup with the Canadian national team.
Toronto acquired midfielder Michael Thomas from Kansas City for a 2015 second-round draft pick on Tuesday, though it's unclear if he'll be available for this contest.
"Michael is a solid player who our coaches have had their eye on for some time," team president and general manager Kevin Payne told the team's official website. "He's versatile and athletic and will be an important part of TFC for some years to come."
Defense may be a priority this time against Montreal, though, after Toronto fell 6-0 on May 1 in the second leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal in the most recent meeting.
Marco Di Vaio, who scored in the last MLS matchup between the teams, netted two goals in that semifinal contest for Montreal, which is coming off a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Saturday.
"We can't panic," Di Vaio said. "We have to stay calm and analyze the game tape and work on some of those things we didn't do so well."
The back-and-forth match against the Rapids also cost Montreal its coach Wednesday as Schallibaum was suspended for the third time this season for stepping onto the field during the loss. Assistant coach Philippe Eullaffroy was also suspended for one game for throwing the ball in the direction of Rapids midfielder Tony Cascio, so Mauro Biello will be in charge against Toronto.
He'll hope to help the Impact (9-4-2) recover after they allowed their second-most goals since joining MLS last season.
"Giving up four goals is just not good enough on our part," defender Jeb Brovsky said. "We're not happy, but we've got a quick turnaround in Toronto and we have another chance to prove ourselves."
Montreal leads New York by one point for the top spot in the East, but it has played three fewer league games than the Red Bulls.
It may need to improve its overall play on the road, though, if it plans to remain atop the conference. The Impact have been outscored 9-5 while going 1-3-1 in their last five on the road since winning their first two.