Sebastian Giovinco -- Samuel Piette --Battling for ball

Defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC are off to an 0-2 start in the league campaign after Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact. Those early struggles put the Reds in rare, but not unprecedented company.


The 2000 D.C. United squad is the only previous defending champs to begin the season with consecutive losses. That squad wouldn't recover, finishing last in the Eastern Division and out of the postseason for the first time in the club's history.


But other teams have survived starts that were nearly as sluggish to make the playoffs, though none made it as far as the MLS Cup final in their title defense attempts.


The 2003 LA Galaxy went 0-4-4 in their first eight matches. Remarkably, they still qualified for the 2003 playoffs and finished with an even goal differential despite not having a single away victory all season.


More recently, the 2008 Houston Dynamo and 2009 Columbus Crew SC overcame winless runs of six and seven matches, respectively, to win regular season conference titles a year after taking the MLS Cup trophy.


Like Toronto, both the '08 Dynamo and '09 Crew SC were also involved in Concacaf Champions League knockout fixtures against Mexican opposition, though neither advanced.


Toronto return to MLS action on March 30, when they will host Real Salt Lake at BMO Field (8 pm ET; TSN in Canada | MLS LIVE in US). They will then play host to Club America on April 3 in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals.