TORONTO – Ever since Ryan Nelsen took over as head coach for Toronto FC in February, the former New Zealand International has often spoke of the type of team he wants to build in Ontario.
One that is hard to play against, able to grind out results and who support each other with genuine team spirit.
He could very well have been talking about Toronto’s opponent on Saturday when the Houston Dynamo come to town (4 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS Live in the US). Houston have been to two straight MLS Cup finals, and just set the all-time MLS record for consecutive home games without a loss in all competitions.
“We always try and look at the things that we can improve upon by looking at the good things that other teams are doing," Nelsen explained. "Their consistency and how their squad always plays for each other is the envy of a lot of teams."
What does it come down to? According to Nelsen, it's simple: “There are no egos.”
Asked if he taking any solace from the fact that TFC will be taking on the Dynamo in Toronto on Saturday rather than at BBVA Compass Stadium, Nelsen admitted that playing against Houston will provide a stern test for his squad regardless of the venue.
“They are MLS Cup finalists and a really strong team. It is going to be nice to see where our guys are at against them,” Nelsen said. “I think we play Houston next in the middle of the summer, so maybe it would have been better to play them at their place now.”
While Nelsen was open in praising everything that Houston have accomplished as a club, he was also adamant that there won’t be any reverence when his team step out on the pitch. Instead, he wants his players to be focused on striving to build upon a home unbeaten streak over their own.
“It’s our home turf. We expect to win and we expect to get three points on our home ground,” Nelsen said. “We want to stay unbeaten at home and want to get a run of our own going at BMO Field.”