Reds Return For Final Home Stand

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
Final Games At BMO

Toronto FC returns home to face D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field (1 p.m. ET on TSN). The Reds will be at home for the next two games on either side of an international break. These will be the final matches at BMO Field in 2012 before Toronto travels to Torreon, Mexico for a Champions League fixture before the MLS finale in Columbus at the end of October.

"We just want to win, put up a good performance in front of our fans," forward Ryan Johnson told Toronto FC TV on Friday after training. The Jamaica international will have a busy month, he is leaving Toronto on Sunday to join Jamaica for a pair of World Cup Qualifying matches before returning to BMO Field to take on Montreal in the last home game on October 20. Johnson's stunning strike against New York Red Bulls last Saturday got him a nomination for MLS Goal of the Week. He hopes for something more memorable - a long awaited victory for a side that's winless in 11 MLS games - on Saturday. "Offseason is too long, you basically start all over again going into next season. We want to end (this year) on a positive note as much as we can."

Blood, Snot & Fire

A lack of results on the pitch has made for quieter matchdays at BMO Field this season. Head coach Paul Mariner understands the disappointment felt by the fans, he has challenged his players to get supporters back on side by showing "blood, snot and fire" on Saturday.

Mariner admits there isn't much he can do about the millions of dollars worth of players that are currently sidelined with injuries. Working with what's available to him, he sees every game as a job interview and expects his players to match the other team for effort. "That's what everbody wants to see in the stands, they want to see the players are working hard for the shirt," Mariner said. The coach confirmed on Friday that Eric Hassli, the only designated player not ruled out for the season, is unlikely to see action against D.C. as he works through a severe knock to one of his ankles. While Hassli recuperates, auditions continue for many of his teammates with Mariner saying "I want to see that they want to be here next year."

Forward Pairing

Both Johnson and rookie forward Luis Silva provided a small glimpse into the squad Mariner may be fielding against D.C. The energetic presence of Quincy Amarikwa has helped Toronto's attack in the absence of top goal getters Hassli and Danny Koevermans. The 24-year old speedster looks likely to land a second straight MLS start on Saturday alongside Silva.

"We're going to come out a little bit different (against D.C.)," Silva said. "Hopefully me and Quincy feed off each other and we get some early goals." Amarikwa reported slight hamstring tightness earlier this week before being declared fit for Saturday after showing no discomfort at Friday's training session. For his part, Silva can raise his bid for MLS Rookie of the Year with a strong October. He humbly offered, "personally I'm just trying to improve every game and try to help my team as much as I can."

Avoiding The Sweep

Toronto lost both encounters against D.C. this season, outscored 5-1 over 180 minutes. Although United are without their captain Dwayne De Rosario, the club has used its depth to go unbeaten in four games since their main offensive catalyst went down with a season-ending injury. 

Midfielder Terry Dunfield hopes Toronto can avoid the sweep on Saturday, saying the club has been doing some things well despite the lack of wins due to costly errors at crucial moments. Like Johnson, Dunfield will join his country for a pair of vital World Cup Qualifying matches after Saturday's game. He wants to join the Canada squad on a positive note. "D.C. has been one of our bogey teams, so I'm looking forward to it (Saturday)."

The Opposition