April 20, 2018 / 6:25 PM / 5 months ago

Toronto FC puts pursuit of CCL title aside to play Houston

Toronto FC has been squarely focused on the Concacaf Champions League title but will put that pursuit aside on Saturday to travel to Houston for a MLS match against the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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. But first, Toronto FC squares off against Houston, one of the league’s top home sides in 2017 and a Western Conference finalist last season.

Toronto FC (1-3-0) wanted to move Saturday’s match in order to fully focus on Chivas, but that request was denied.

Toronto officials said they’d use a reserve-heavy roster in Houston, which was also the case last Saturday when Toronto FC fell to Colorado, 2-0, in Commerce City, Col.

“A lot of guys are going to get an opportunity to play,” said Toronto defender Jason Hernandez, who recently re-signed with the club and saw 45 minutes of action in Colorado. “It’s a great opportunity to step on the field, make a case for yourself, and gain experience at this level.”

“Going into Colorado and Houston are two of the toughest road games this league will provide,” Hernandez added. “Jump into fire and see how we hold up. We have a lot of confidence around here; we’re going to put a team out that will be ready to compete on Saturday.”

Toronto is 0-3-1 on the road and has scored just three goals in its past four MLS games. The team 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 (1-2-2) has stumbled a bit in the early going as well, carrying a four-match winless streak into Saturday’s game that includes a 2-2 draw at San Jose on April 14 and a 2-0 loss to New England in its most recent home game.

“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. The Dynamo had gone 12-1-6 in their previous 19 games at home (including last season’s playoffs).

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

—Field Level Media

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