TFC, RSL set for battle at Rio Tinto
Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto FC will hope to keep its sensational start to the MLS season going on Saturday when it travels to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Real Salt Lake.
The Reds have taken maximum points from their first two matches of the season and Jermain Defoe, who joined the club in January from Tottenham, has played a starring role, scoring all three of Toronto's goals this term.
Defoe's impressive start to life in MLS has left Salt Lake wary of his potential impact at Rio Tinto.
"He's fast," RSL defender Nat Borchers told reporters Wednesday. "Speed kills in this game, and when you're able to time your runs well like he does, he's able to get into good spots and he's clinical. He's like Robbie Keane with more pace, and that's really difficult to account for."
Borchers is quite familiar with Keane as RSL has faced the Los Angeles Galaxy twice already this season. The Claret and Cobalt, unbeaten through their first three games of the season, took four points from their two games with the Galaxy, leaving Jeff Cassar's men two points off the pace of first-place FC Dallas.
Real Salt Lake played to a 1-1 home draw with L.A. in its most recent outing. Cassar's side did well defensively, but the club will hope for a better offensive display against Toronto this weekend.
"Our defensive shape for most of the game ... we were much more organized," Cassar said, compared to RSL's 1-0 win over the Galaxy on March 8. "We were just a little bit off on our possession and our attacking ideas. We just need to do a little bit better with the ball."
Toronto has been equally impressive thus far, getting wins from its trip to Seattle Sounders FC and its home tilt with D.C. United.
But with another tricky contest, this time against RSL, TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen has bemoaned his side's difficult opening to the season.
"Our start is probably the toughest start of any team in the whole of the league," Nelsen told reporters Tuesday. "The way we started is obviously very pleasing but we've got another two away games that are extremely difficult. The one thing I like about these guys is they like it when they're kind of the underdogs."
"We'll go to Salt Lake City with a lot of confidence but aware enough to know that it's a very good team we're playing against," Nelsen continued. "(RSL are) one of the best in the league for the past few years. It'll be a really tough game."
03/28 16:31:41 ET