TORONTO – A strained hamstring will keep Jacob Peterson out of Saturday’s match at Real Salt Lake (9:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but that doesn't mean the Toronto FC midfielder can't see some similiarities between his team and this week's opponent.
After all, RSL were in a position years ago similar to the one the Reds find themselves in now: struggling to stay afloat, but well aware that anything is possible with the right moves and the belief that change is possible.
“We know that teams get better every year and I’m sure the transfer window will be a busy time for us,” Peterson said. “I know Aron [head coach Winter] has said publicly that he’s trying to get some more guys in here, which I think will help because we probably need a little more veteran leadership with all our young guys."
Peterson joined the Reds last season after a stint with Colorado that gave him a first-hand look at RSL's surprising run of success. The Rapids lost the final game of the 2009 regular season to Real Salt Lake (and what they hoped would be a berth in the postseason), and Jason Kreis's bunch rode the wave from that win all the way to an MLS Cup.
“We were seven points clear with three game to go, something like that,” Peterson said of Rapids. “We just had to win one in our last seven games and we missed out and Salt Lake went in. Salt Lake actually had to beat us by three goals in that last game of the season and they did, and they went through and won, and they have carried that momentum on.”
That experience gives Peterson at least a little faith that such a turnaround is possible in Toronto, despite the Reds' struggles this season. They've amassed just 15 points in 17 games thus far, but that with the parity in MLS and the examples set by a team like RSL, anything is possible.
“Three wins, two wins back-to-back puts you right back up the table," he said. "The East is tight this year. Maybe New York and Philadelphia have kind of separated themselves, but the rest are kind of right there battling, still trying to find their identity. We’re not out of it, we know what we have to do. We know a couple of good results will get us back."
Toronto FC are using a lot of young players because of the injuries as Winter continues to try to build the team he wants. Peterson feels the team is moving in the right direction.
“If you look at the teams who have been successful, usually they stick with a decent core,” Peterson said. “They might struggle for a bit. Salt Lake was the worst team in the league and, yeah, they made some important moves, but they kept a lot of that core. Look at them now, they’re one of the best teams in the league.”