TORONTO — Something tends to be missing when Toronto FC play the LA Galaxy: goals.
The teams have played three consecutive scoreless draws in the regular season, including April 13 at BMO Field.
Neither team scored in their home-and-home encounters last season, either. In fact, you have to go back to Sept. 19, 2009, when David Beckham and former TFC forward Edson Buddle scored in LA’s 2-0 victory at the Home Depot Center. The Galaxy also won 2-1 at BMO Field on June 6, 2009.
The return match this season is Saturday in Carson, Calif. (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), with the teams coming from different parts of the table. The Galaxy enter the weekend leading MLS with 30 points from 16 matches while TFC are near the bottom with 13 points from 14 games.
Both teams will be missing players who are playing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup — Toronto’s Julian de Guzman (Canada) and Dicoy Williams (Jamaica) and LA’s Landon Donovan (United States) and ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts (Jamaica). Juninho also will be absent for his wedding in Brazil.
That doesn’t mean TFC are expecting some sort of dip in potency from last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners. Goals don’t have to come from the traditional attacking players — David Beckham is always a threat on set pieces.
“We have to see what we can do to prevent those set pieces,” Jacob Peterson said at training this week. “The way to defend against them is not to give up any around the box. And hopefully we can do that. That’s an area where they’re really dangerous. Omar Gonzalez likes to come forward on those set pieces and he finishes them off pretty well. I’m sure we’ll work on that.”
Toronto expect to have some much-needed help of their own on the attack with the return from injury of former Galaxy forward Alan Gordon, along with Peterson and Gianluca Zavarise.
The Reds have played nine home games already and now must hit the road more often. After they return from LA, they go to Foxborough, Mass., for a midweek match on June 15 before playing at home against Seattle three days later.
The travel could be the biggest adjustment coming to MLS from other soccer leagues. First-year head coach Aron Winter said it sometimes it makes it difficult to accomplish what he wants in training.
“What I’ve noticed is that because you’re traveling a lot, you also have less time for practice and training on those things you want with your players,” Winter said. “You can practice, but not practice those things that you want. When you’re playing Saturday to Saturday, you can practice those things that you want. It’s not easy, but you have to deal with it.”
Attakora, Stevanovic stay home
Defender Nana Attakora, who suffered a thigh injury late in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City, did not make the trip to Los Angeles. He did a good job in that game of replacing Adrian Cann, who suffered a season-ending ACL in training on May 31. Alen Stevanovic also did not make the trip.