Toronto out to play spoilers, win back pride from RBNY

TORONTO – Toronto FC can exact revenge and act as spoilers at the same time when they host the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field on Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET; FOX Soccer, TSN2).

Even though Toronto have undergone a huge turnover since the Red Bulls dominated their first encounter 5-0 on July 6 at Red Bull Arena, there are enough holdovers left who remember the humiliation.

“We’ve got to fight back and get our pride back from these guys because they took it in New York,” said 20-year-old defender Ashtone Morgan, who played the second half of that game.

While Toronto’s own playoff hopes are slim, a win could do some damage to the Red Bulls, who entered the weekend holding the last wildcard spot.

“We’re still in it mathematically,” said midfielder Eric Avila, who was still a member of FC Dallas when TFC played the Red Bulls the first time around. “But we’d love to be the underdogs and also be the spoiler. ... It’s going to be a great game for the crowd and I think it’s a different team than the one [the Red Bulls] played in New York.”

While the Reds are fired up and confident, there is still great respect for the Red Bulls’ talent-laden lineup, which includes Thierry Henry, who has 12 goals to his name this season.

“He’s one of the best players ever,” head coach and technical director Aron Winter said after Friday’s training at BMO Field. “We know his strengths. He’s very expressive, he’s good on the ball, he makes very easy goals and he’s fast. It’s always a problem when you’re playing against players of that quality. … And they’ve got more good players. But in football, you’re playing with 11 and tomorrow we’re going to take care to make it very difficult and to get a good result at home.”

Notebook:

Defender Richard Eckersley came out of Tuesday’s 1-1 CONCACAF Champions League game against Mexico’s Pumas UNAM with a strained hamstring and said Friday he will be out 2-3 weeks.

Forward Joao Plata, who has not played since he strained a hamstring in the 4-2 win at Columbus on Sept. 10, is fit now, Winter said, but is not likely to start on Saturday.

“Maybe he’s going to be on the roster,” Winter said. “But if he’s in the roster, we’re not going to start with him because he came back from an injury and you have to be careful not to bring him back too quickly.”