Toronto FC has one more chance to qualify for the elimination round of the CONCACAF Champions League and it’s against a team it hasn’t beaten all year.
When the Reds take the field with MLS counterpart FC Dallas on Tuesday night in the Lone Star State, they will be hoping to snap a three-game losing streak against what has become a heated rival over the last three months.
Despite the history between the clubs this season — each of the Toronto losses was 1-0 — former Dallas forward Peri Marosevic, who was acquired midseason, says the team is focused on the here and now.
“The only outcome we can hope for is a win. That’s where our mind is at, a win,” he told the club’s website.
Marosevic knows how important the game is to the team and the city, but he also has a special place inside for his former team, making this matchup mean even more.
“This is the place where I started my career … I’m excited, we are mentally prepared for this game,” he said. “This is an important game for all of us, for Toronto FC, the city. We are going to do what we can to win.”
Toronto has shown it can bounce back from a poor outing earlier in the season against a specific team and then play well.
The Reds welcomed the Philadelphia Union to BMO Field on May 28 for the first of two matches on the year only to be embarrassed 6-2.
Undeterred, five months later on Oct. 15, Toronto ventured out to the city of brotherly love and came away with a hard fought 1-1 draw.
An adjusted game plan and short memory allowed TFC to be strong and focus on the task at hand, something defender Andy Iro says the team needs to take with them into their Tuesday match.
“We need to be defensively strong, be difficult to break down,” Iro said. “Then [we need to] impose our style like we did in Philadelphia.”
Toronto will be welcoming back a couple of fresh faces who didn’t appear in the game against the Union.
Julian De Guzman and Terry Dunfield will be back on the pitch after head coach Aron Winter allowed them to rest following a World Cup qualifier for Canada.
Dunfield is excited about the do-or-die situation and is positive his team has what it takes to advance.
“Big games like this is why you play,” he said. “The spirit in the camp is really good right now … I think we can do it.”
Also, with shortened minutes in Philadelphia on Saturday, Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings are expected to play most of the game and will bring a little more firepower and experience to the lineup as the Reds look to achieve victory.