Toronto FC's turbulent year hit a new low this week, as three players were arrested after the team arrived in Houston for its match against the Dynamo on Wednesday.
Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and Nick Soolsma were arrested after a fight outside a bar in Houston early Monday. The trio was later released and rejoined their teammates, who are suffering through a horrible season on the field.
Toronto FC (1-10-0) opened the season with nine straight losses and, despite a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on May 26, fired coach Aron Winter on June 7.
Paul Mariner was named new coach, and produced positive play in his first game last weekend, a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
Now, he will have to show he can navigate off-the-field distractions. Although Aceval, Silva and Soolsma seem unlikely to play against Houston (5-4-4).
Aceval, Silva and Soolsma have combined to play 20 games all season, but Silva was the lone player used by Mariner in his debut against Sporting.
Still, it is a distraction Mariner could have done without as TFC tries to get points at BBVA Compass Stadium against Houston. Especially just days after the team showed good signs on the field.
"When you consider what the confidence of the team was when we started a few days ago, I would say that (Saturday) was an improved performance," Mariner said
"The team showed tremendous strength and character. I thought that the second half performance was excellent. It was a game of two very different halves. We really took it to them."
Toronto defender Jeremy Hall acknowledged the team will need to adjust to the coaching change, but they were ready to turn the season around.
"Obviously, it is going to take time to adjust to playing for a new coach and in a new formation, but everyone has a good mentality. It will take some time, but we are excited for the challenge," Hall said.
Houston is another problem for Toronto, as the Dynamo enter the fixture off a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Saturday in the El Capitan. Adam Moffat notched the game-winner for Houston.
The Dynamo have won two of three and three of six, and have just one loss over their last six matches. The 2011 MLS Cup runner-up sits just fifth in the East standings, but have played just 13 games - fewer than every team but one ahead of them in the standings but one.
Houston should secure three points against Toronto, which visits the Dynamo's new stadium with its season on the verge of collapse.