TORONTO — Nathan Sturgis feels this weekend is a good time to get even with some old friends.
The Toronto FC midfielder played 33 minutes as a substitute on April 30 in a 3-0 loss at Qwest Field to his former team, the Seattle Sounders. The rematch is Saturday at BMO Field (7 pm ET, MatchDay Live).
“It’s a big game for us,” said Sturgis, who played for Seattle in 2009 and 2010. “We have some payback to give them from what they did to us at their place.”
The Seattle loss had a familiar look. The Sounders scored in the ninth minute and Toronto FC never got into the game.
“It wasn’t a good performance by us,” Sturgis recalled. ”They came at us pretty hard. We didn’t deal with it and they spanked us pretty good, 3-0. So yeah, I think we have some payback to give them and put in a better performance than that.”
Sluggish starts have been a problem for TFC this season and Seattle are one of the teams that made them pay for it.
“We’ve given up a lot of early goals this year and that kind of puts us on our heels to start a game,” Sturgis said. “And that’s something we’ve emphasized the last couple of weeks. We have to start off well in the first 10 minutes, especially against a team like Seattle. In this league, it’s very tough to come from behind. So if you don’t start up well, it’s not going to end well.”
Toronto do have a 2-2 comeback draw against the LA Galaxy a week ago, sandwiched between 0-0 games against Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution, upon which they can draw.
“We’ve been doing better defensively so I think that’s big for us again, to try to keep the zero,” Sturgis said.
The journeyman midfielder has started four of the past five games — missing only the 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union — and has played well. The opportunity, presented by injuries and national team call-ups to the normal TFC midfield starters, is something Sturgis has made the most of.
That said, this game will be distinct.
“It’s always a little different going up against your last team, going against players you’ve played with the last couple of years,” said 23-year-old Sturgis, who also has played with the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. “But ... this is now my fourth team, I think, so you’re always playing against a team or players you’ve played with in the past. Once you step on the field, it’s a game like the rest of them.”
Forward Alan Gordon, who missed six games with a groin injury before playing against the Galaxy and the Revolution this past week, was at Friday’s training at Cherry Beach but did not participate. He is a game-time decision for Saturday.
Midfielder Julian de Guzman, who played for Canada in the Gold Cup and came back “a little bit injured,” according to head coach Aron Winter, will not play against Seattle.
Defender Nana Attakora (thigh) and midfielder Jacob Peterson (hamstring) are both scratched for the Sounders match as well.