Toronto Hosts Dangerous D.C.

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
No Time For Regrets

Toronto FC hosts D.C. United on Saturday (4 p.m. ET on Rogers Sportsnet) in a match between Eastern Conference rivals that marks the return of former TFC captains Dwayne De Rosario and Maicon Santos to BMO Field.

After dropping what would've been the first point of the 2012 MLS season last Saturday during stoppage time in Salt Lake, Toronto played it safe for a scoreless draw in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal first leg against Montreal at midweek. "The game plan was not to lose," head coach and technical director Aron Winter freely confessed on Friday. However, back home in a league match Winter said Toronto could afford to be more expressive going forward. While the idea will remain to keep the opposition from penetrating Milos Kocic's goal, Winter will likely take the leash off his offensive players in a hunt for maximum points.

Keeping The Zero

When fullback Ashtone Morgan broke into the scene with an eye-opening performance in the CONCACAF Champions League against Arabe Unido back in 2010, De Rosario and Maicon were on his side. On Saturday, the same duo will look to unsettle the Canadian defender but Morgan believes the Reds are ready.

"They are a great side, D.C., with their attacking force up top," Morgan said on Friday. "It's going to be good. For sure (De Rosario & Maicon) want to come back and they want to prove a point so we just have to shut them down, work hard as a backline, keep the zero." Saturday's visitors have scored an Eastern Conference-high 18 goals this season but on Wednesday Toronto earned the first clean sheet of 2012 in any competition. If called upon, Morgan believes TFC can duplicate that style but unlike at the Olympic Stadium, the defender hinted Toronto could do more to hit D.C. on the counter-attack.

Silva Lining On Attack

After a smashing start to his professional career, illness and an adjustment period has slightly quieted Luis Silva. Now recovered from the flu and feeling like himself, the attacking midfielder is prepared to contribute toward his first MLS victory.

"In the back of our mind we know that we haven't won a game," a candid Silva revealed after training Friday. "Obviously it's very important for us (to win), and we are just trying to go out there and give it our best ... always with the mentality that we want to win." Silva admitted that Wednesday's draw wasn't "pretty" but he and his teammates agree it was needed to stem the tide of losses as of late. Given D.C.'s penchant for attacking football, a healthy Silva - from the start or off the bench - could pose a threat to the United backline that surrendered five goals in San Jose at midweek.

Frings Feeling Positive

Toronto captain Torsten Frings met the media (audio available) on Friday off camera, where he defended his teammates' recent play saying "you could see in Salt Lake (last MLS match) we played well. We (fought) for every metre and we deserved more." 

While the tactics against Montreal in Wednesday's outing were panned in some circles, Frings had a pragmatic take. The TFC captain noted that it being a cup match Toronto can afford the draw on the road and take the tie over two legs by playing a higher tempo at BMO Field. He further pressed the need to get something out of that match for the sake of confidence. Returning to MLS action, Frings is positive that a passionate repeat of the Salt Lake performance will land Toronto those elusive three points against a D.C. side that may not be feeling confident after a poor match and a long flight.

The Opposition

The Officials

The lead referee for Saturday's match is Mark Kadlecik. According to MLS, Kadlecik has headed the officiating crew on 18 occasions. In that time he has called 24.2 fouls and 3.4 yellow cards per game. He has handed out five red cards and called six penalties in his career. Kadlecik's assistants are Greg Barkey and Philippe Briere. The fourth official will be John McCloskey.