Nashville SC-Toronto FC Preview
Toronto FC know the importance of snapping their losing run when Nashville SC visit BMO Field as Javier Perez attempts to get his side "out of the hole."
The Reds are winless in nine matches and have lost the last six of those, the most recent being a cruel 1-0 defeat at the hands of Inter Miami on Tuesday.
Playing with 10 men for close to an hour after Kemar Lawrence's dismissal, Toronto looked the more likely side to win the game before Christian Makoun's 95th-minute penalty.
That latest setback leaves Toronto with the worst record of all 24 MLS clubs, but Perez is eager to take any sort of positives from the Inter defeat.
"I'm very happy with the team, very happy that we stayed together," he said. "We are trying to get out of the hole. We are trying.
"We are touching the right keys and we started really well against Inter given the circumstances. We were in control of the game and energetic.
"When we went one player down, we took the challenge and we accepted the game the way it was."
Nashville are certainly not struggling in terms of momentum, having won four and drawn the other of their last five matches.
Gary Smith's men are second in the Eastern Conference and are seeking a third straight road win in Toronto on Saturday.
"Without a doubt, these away results mean something very special to the group," Smith said. "I'm sure everyone can appreciate that.
"I think we're too far out at the moment to be suggesting that we're rounding into playoff form. We still have to mathematically get ourselves in.
"Getting away results is important. We want to finish as high as possible, but we also want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we have the right answers when we go away from home."
Toronto FC - Jacob Shaffelburg
Shaffelburg made a big difference off the bench for Toronto in the loss to Inter Miami, with no player able to better his four shots, half of which were on target. The Canadian forward was harshly denied a goal as the officials adjudged the ball did not cross the line, but his display will certainly give Perez food for thought.
Nashville SC - Walker Zimmerman
United States international Zimmerman captained Nashville on his return to club action and scored the only goal of the game against CF Montreal - his first of the season. Not only that, the defender also registered five clearances at Stade Saputo - second only to defensive partner Dave Romney (eight) - which includes a goal-line block.
- Nashville is unbeaten in three meetings with Toronto FC (W2 D1), including a 1-1 draw at BMO Field on August 1. Nashville has not defeated any opponent three times in its MLS history.
- Toronto has lost six straight matches, its second six-game losing streak of the season following a run from May 22 to July 3. Prior to this season, Toronto hadn't lost six in a row since losing its first nine matches of the 2012 season.
- Nashville has won three straight matches for the second time in club history (3 straight, including playoffs, in November 2020). That run includes a pair of away wins after not winning any of its first seven on the road this season (D5 L2).
- Toronto lost, 1-0, to Inter Miami on a 95th minute penalty on Tuesday, the 20th straight match in which the Reds have conceded a goal. It's the longest active streak in MLS and the longest run of matches allowing a goal in club history.
- Nashville SC has lost only two of its first 23 matches this season, the fourth team in MLS history to have just two losses at this stage of a season, with the Galaxy in 2011, FC Dallas in 2010 and D.C. United in 2006. Only Dallas in 2010 has gone longer than 23 matches with fewer than three defeats, not losing for the third time until its 29th match of the season.
Updated September 17, 2021