Toronto FC's struggles this season have been well-documented, but ahead of the sides meeting at BMO Field on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), you can count Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith among those who think the Reds' record might not tell the whole story.

Speaking with reporters in the buildup to Saturday's game, Smith said Toronto still have elements of the club that became an Eastern Conference power before this year's downturn.

The Reds sit bottom of the overall league table with 15 points from 24 matches. They're winless in nine contests and have lost six straight.

"I think it's easy to forget just how difficult it is to go to anyone's home field in this league in whatever the scenario is," Smith said. "And this game at the weekend will be fraught with problems and difficulties, I think mostly based on the quality of our opponent. I would put this Toronto group, technically, in the top four or five in this league. They're a very, very well-drilled group, they're a very capable group and they're a very dangerous group that if given the opportunity can make any team look absolutely stupid. I think that's something we have to be fully aware of."

Advertising

That might sound like a coach trying to keep his players humble, but Smith also cited factors that could make the matchup a complicated one. Namely, there's uncertainty regarding how exactly Toronto will line up under head coach Javier Perez.

Nashville enter as favorites, though, considering they're second in the Eastern Conference standings and have lost just twice all season. They're also unbeaten in five and have won three straight.

"I think you're seeing a situation now where through necessity with injuries or suspensions or just pure rotation, maybe even giving one or two of the younger players who have shown some terrific form an opportunity, you're starting to see more of a turnover of players and a rotation of bodies," Smith said. "They're without two of who are what I suspect their first-choice strikers through injuries, which can't be very helpful. I'm sure the coach is looking at it and thinking to himself, 'I want to put us in a position as a team where we can see some more confidence in the group and we can turn a result our way.'"

Smith also looks at Toronto's last match, a 1-0 defeat to a recently resurgent Inter Miami CF, and feels it was far from one-sided. Rather, his viewpoint is it only adds to the caution Nashville must carry.

"And I have to be brutally honest: How it didn't work out for them on Tuesday night I still can't fathom," Smith said. "They did virtually everything to get something out of the game, but unfortunately that's the way it goes when you're in a tough run, you've just got to try and do as much as you can as a coach to get the right bodies on the field at the right time that are going to be able to give their best effort. And I'm sure he's working towards that and he's constantly thinking about that.

"But that really isn't my problem, I have to concentrate on what my group's doing. It shouldn't really matter to us who plays for Toronto or how they play. I truly can't work out who they're going to play, what they're going to do, so I've well and truly stuck to our guns and how we're going to go about our business."

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising