Last time Houston and Toronto met, both teams were riding a three-game winning streak heading into the contest. The Dynamo ended the Reds’ run that day at BMO Field with a 2-0 victory.
Head coach Paul Mariner conceded “(Houston) played better than we did, and they deserved the victory.” Toronto seemed unable to get anything going against a very organized side that made the MLS Cup Final in 2011 and are expected to be a postseason force again this season.
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Video: Luis Silva following midweek match in Columbus.
That July 28 loss also started a five-game winless slide for Toronto in MLS. During this stretch TFC found comfort in a 5-1 Champions League win over CD Aguila, and the lone league point came from a 2-2 draw with Portland. The other four MLS games have resulted in losses. This is the first lengthy slump under new coach Mariner.
Toronto’s biggest problem lately has been their slow starts, proving particularly costly in Columbus at midweek when the Reds were down 1-0 inside the first four minutes.
A timid start “was the opposite of what I asked for in the dressing room,” Mariner said after the game on Wednesday. Toronto had long spells of positivity in the match, but players were unable to overcome a two-goal deficit, losing 2-1 to the Crew.
“We were supposed to come out sharp, we didn’t,” Luis Silva – scorer of the Toronto goal – told Toronto FC TV in the dressing room at Columbus. “We did pick it up … I just think we (have) to start like we end and take our chances when we have them.”
Taking an early advantage is exactly what Toronto did on its last trip to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on June 20. Three first half goals saw the Reds take a 3-1 lead into the dressing room at halftime. Although Houston came back to earn the draw, Toronto will want to charge out of the gate strongly again on Saturday night (8:30 p.m. ET on TSN 2).