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Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders | MLS Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
August 10, 2013 (WEEK 24, MLS Game #213)
7 p.m. ET (SNet Ont; KONG)

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Toronto FC will look to build on their longest winning streak in a year when they entertain Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC have won two games in a row, returning home following a 1-0 victory at the New England Revolution last weekend. Sounders FC, who made a big splash with a huge transfer signing last week, are coming off back-to-back home wins, last a 3-0 win against FC Dallas.

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REFEREE: Mark Geiger. AR1 (bench): Joe Fletcher; AR2 (opposite): C.J. Morgante; 4th: Yusri Rudolf
MLS Career: 112 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 28; pens: 37

DISABLED LIST: SEA: Josh Ford, Steve Zakuani
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Doneil Henry, Matias Laba … SEA: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Eddie Johnson, Djimi Traore
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Gale Agbossoumonde, Darren O’Dea, Darel Russell, Richard Eckersley, Reggie Lambe, Justin Braun … SEA: Zach Scott
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 5 goals … Sounders FC 5 wins, 12 goals … Ties 1
AT TORONTO (5 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 5 goals … Sounders FC 5 wins, 12 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS)
3/17: SEA 3, TOR 1 (Estrada 17, 51, 63 – Johnson 62)

  • The teams are meeting for the only time this season in league play.
  • Sounders FC have won four games in a row against Toronto FC, including a 3-1 victory last year at CenturyLink Field in the only meeting between the teams.
  • TFC’s only win in the all-time series came in 2010 at BMO Field.
  • Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. SEA: first game … Sigi Schmid vs. TOR: P13 W8 L1 D4

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC made it two league wins in a row for the first time this season, getting the game’s only goal for a victory against the New England Revolution on Sunday evening at Gillette Stadium. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from 22 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's only goal came after just two minutes. Matias Laba won possession at midfield and surged into the Revolution half. His deft hitch inside the penalty area created room to shoot, but Scott Caldwell charged down his effort. But he stuck with his task and thumped home the rebound.
  • TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik was called upon to make two saves in keeping the clean sheet and ensuring the first back-to-back wins for Toronto this season.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew at BMO Field. Reggie Lambe came into the midfield for Jeremy Hall, and Andrew Wiedeman started up top in place of Justin Braun.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe, Jonathan Osorio, Matias Laba, Bobby Convey (Darel Russell 90) - Jeremy Brockie (Jeremy Hall 80), Andrew Wiedeman (Justin Braun 69).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC have won back-to-back games in MLS play for the first time since July 11-18, 2012, when they defeated Vancouver, New England and Colorado in succession, following the win at New England.
  • “That is seven points in three games. It is something that we are building on. We are always trying to get better and better each game,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “The guys showed today that sometimes when it is not going as well with the ball, you have our foundation to fall back on, our organization and our structure and working really hard for each other. That is what won us the game with a little bit of brilliance against the goal.”
  • After not recording a shutout in their first 14 league games, TFC now has two shutouts in the last three games and three on the season overall. They’ve allowed one goal in the current three-game unbeaten run.
  • “Of course, we have to defend as a team and attack as a team. Some days you don’t get one side as good as the other,” said Nelsen. “This day our defending was absolutely brilliant I thought. Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, actually Joe (Bendik), all the back were brilliant. Guys held their shape.”
  • Said Ashtone Morgan: “We are all getting used to each other. You can see that we are getting some clean sheets now and it’s good to see and it’s a positive vibe we are trying to build from the back to the front. It’s been good so far.”
  • Matias Laba scored his first MLS goal, making his 14th consecutive start in the TFC midfield. “Matías is naturally a very good reader of the game and he steps up extremely well and flows on with his pressure,” Nelsen said. “He is relentless and when he pressures that hard it is very difficult for the opposition to keep the ball. You have to be a very special player to be able to handle his type of pressure.”
  • Said Laba: I am a player that tries to play both offensively and defensively, but only when there is an opportunity to go forward. I enjoy going forward and playing defensively.”
  • Andrew Wiedeman made his first start of the season, after coming off the substitutes’ bench in three league games, playing 69 minutes alongside Jeremy Brockie in attack.
  • “I don’t want to single out just one guy because I think everybody’s positional play was very good. We also needed a bit of luck, of course,” said Nelsen. “[Magic] is probably what we have been a wee bit short of most of the season. But we are evolving as a club.”
  • On Wednesday, TFC lost 4-1 to AS Roma at BMO Field. The lone Toronto goal came through an own goal; Alessandro Florenzi, named MVP in the MLS All-Star Game, again had a goal and an assist for Roma.
  • Here’s the TFC team: Stefan Frei (76’: Quillan Roberts), Jonas Elmer (46’: Ashtone Morgan), Gale Agbossoumonde (65’: Michael Thomas), Steven Caldwell (46’: Doneil Henry), Ricahrd Eckersley (46’: Mark Bloom), Alvaro Rey (39’: Darel Russell), Matias Laba (46’: Kyle Bekker), Jonathon Osorio (46’: Jeremy Hall), Bobby Convey (46’: Reggie Lambe) (76’: Ryan Richter), Robert Earnshaw (46’: Jeremy Brockie) (82’: Emory Welshman), Justin Braun (46’: 32-Andrew Wiedeman)

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC won their second consecutive match on their home ground, strolling to a 3-0 victory against FC Dallas on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 31 points from 20 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC took the lead in front of a buzzing CenturyLink Field crowd in the ninth minute. Mauro Rosales hooked a free kick into the area from the right and Obafemi Martins was left completely unmarked, turning home a snap header from the center of the box.
  • The lead was doubled in the 22nd minute. Brad Evans controlled the ball in the center of the midfield and took a couple dribbles, before lofting a pass over the defense to an on-rushing Eddie Johnson, who made a quick feint to get goalkeeper Raul Fernandez to commit before burying his shot.
  • The home side capped the scoring in second-half stoppage time when Evans converted a penalty after Lamar Neagle was knocked down in the box by FCD midfielder David Ferreira.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 victory against Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field. Marcus Hahnemann came in between the posts in place of Andrew Weber, and Eddie Johnson started in place of Marc Burch.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Marcus Hahnemann - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales (Marc Burch 77), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle - Obafemi Martins (Servando Carrasco 86), Eddie Johnson (Zach Scott 90).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sounders FC have now gone nine consecutive home games without defeat (6-0-3), an MLS club record.
  • “I think everybody realizes that we have the potential to get to the playoffs – that's where we need to get to, we need to get to the playoffs to put ourselves in a good position and then make noise. Last year, the two fifth-place teams ended up playing for MLS Cup,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “We are, technically right now point-wise, we're not in the playoff picture. When you look at points per game, we're pretty close, we just have to make sure we get into the playoffs.”
  • Said midfielder Brad Evans: “It has to be a thing where it becomes a theme. Not just nine games unbeaten and we take it for granted. It has to be something that carries on. That’s something that other teams recognize. You want this to be a fortress. The fans deserve it, we deserve it and it’s something that is in the back of our mind.”
  • Marcus Hahnemann appeared in an MLS league match for the first time since June 26, 1999 when he backstopped the victory against FC Dallas. The 14 years, 1 month and 8 days between appearances is an MLS record.
  • “I think Marcus' presence and his experience certainly helped us today. It's one of the reasons we brought him here and I'm really thrilled for him to be able to get out on the field in a league game, and MLS game in front of his home crowd in his home city. There's no better feeling. It probably gave him goose bumps,” said Schmid.
  • Hahnemann has not allowed a goal in his last two MLS matches – of course, over a 14-year span. He allowed one goal in his only appearance this season, a 1-0 loss to Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League.
  • “I'm not quite 100 percent, but I was able to have a really good training yesterday and everything went well so we thought that we would go ahead and try it today, and it worked out,” said Hahnemann after the match. “We got a clean sheet which was absolutely awesome and I got one more chance to play in front of this crowd. It it's great, I'll take it. You know it was worth the risk today to try and do it.”
  • Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson were partnered in attack for the sixth time to start an MLS game. Both scored in the same game for the first time in that group; Martins had a pair of goals July 3 vs. D.C. United when both featured in the first XI.
  • “I thought tonight was their best game together as a group of three, for sure. … There were times where Oba took turns, Neagle and Eddie sometimes took turns dealing with the guy who went deep,” said Schmid. “From a defensive standpoint they did a good job and offensively, I thought they were all on the ball. They all played roles in the attack, they found each other, they combined with each other.”
  • Evans scored his second goal in as many matches in converting a penalty kick. He also added an assist, the fourth time in his MLS career he’s had a goal and an assist in the same game.
  • Mauro Rosales had an assist for a second consecutive game, his first two assists since May 11, having gone eight games without figuring in a goal.
  • “I think over the last 2-3 games he's certainly stepped up his game. And it shows – not just with the assist on the free kick, but just other plays in the game,” said Schmid. “His quickness and his sharpness that wasn't there maybe two months ago. Everybody I think has stepped up their game.”
  • After being introduced to the CenturyLink Field crowd before the FC Dallas match as the club’s newest Designated Player, Clint Dempsey is expected to make his Sounders FC debut in Toronto. Dempsey last appeared in MLS in 2006, with the New England Revolution.
  • “The likelihood of him going 90 minutes on Saturday is very small. Whether that's starting and coming off or coming on as a sub, we'll have to see,” said Schmid.