Major League Soccer

Toronto FC to take reserved approach vs. Dynamo

Toronto FC will have other things beside an early season MLS game on its collective mind when it squares off against Houston on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, but that won't likely deter the Dynamo from taking the match right to the visitors.

Houston (1-2-2) will host the defending MLS champion while carrying a four-match winless streak that includes a 2-2 draw last Saturday at San Jose and a 2-0 loss to New England in its most recent home game.

The Dynamo will have to play better if they expect to even their home record after having one of the league's top home results in 2017.

"We played a very solid game, but again we have to change the results," Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the draw with San Jose. "We're doing the job very well and then just one or two attacks from the other team is becoming a goal."

Houston has lost three of their last four home games, conceding two goals in all three losses. They had gone 12-1-6 in their previous 19 games at home (including last season's playoffs).

Tomas Martinez was a standout for the Dynamo in the draw at San Jose, scoring his first goal of the season and assisting on a tally by teammate Mauro Manotas in the 63rd minute.

While Houston is squarely focused on MLS play, Toronto FC is still targeting bigger goals, namely the CONCACAF Champions League title. The Reds lost to Guadalajara 2-1 on Tuesday at home in the first leg of the two-game aggregate series and will face Chivas on Wednesday in an attempt to be the first MLS team to win the prestigious title.

"We've got no time to worry about anything that didn't go our way (Tuesday)," Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley said. "The response has to be strong in every way, and we're going to regroup and look at some things from this game, understand how we can tweak a few things to give ourselves an even better chance to put things in our favor even more."

Toronto FC (1-3-0) wanted to move Saturday's match in order to fully focus on Chivas, but when that request was denied, Toronto FC officials said they'd use a reserve-heavy roster in Houston.

That was also the case last Saturday when Toronto FC fell to Colorado 2-0 last Saturday in Commerce City, Colo.

Toronto is 0-3-1 on the road and has scored three goals in its past four MLS games, and will be hard pressed to break into the win column against Houston on Saturday, especially with a roster of reserves and role players seeing the bulk of the playing time.

Houston is still without defender A.J. DeLaGarza (torn left ACL), who has missed the entire early season, and will be missing midfielder Juan David Cabezas (left quad) and defenders Philippe Senderos (right hamstring), George Malki (left knee sprain), and Dylan Remick (concussion) for Saturday's match.

Toronto's injury report lists defender Nick Hagglund (hamstring) as out for Saturday's match and midfielder Victor Vazquez (back spasms) as doubtful.

The sides have played 21 times, with Houston holding a 6-5 edge against Toronto with 10 ties. The Dynamo have won three time in the meetings in the Bayou City, with six ties, including a 1-1 draw on Aug. 14. 2016 in the most recent meeting in Houston.

Updated April 19, 2018

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