A pair of Canadian clubs get set to do battle in Wednesday's lone Major League Soccer fixture as Toronto FC hosts Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BMO Field in their only league meeting of the year.
The two sides have met twice already this season, playing out a home-and-away series in the final of the Canadian Championship in May. A spectacular strike from Eric Hassli at the death of the opening match saw Vancouver carry a 1-1 score into the return leg, but Reggie Lambe recorded the lone goal at BMO Field to earn a 2-1 aggregate win for the Reds.
That success has not translated into league play for TFC, a club that is already on its second manager of the season.
Toronto sits last in the overall MLS table with just 10 points through 17 games.
Most recently, the club was humbled by the Philadelphia Union in a 3-0 loss at PPL Park, a match in which the visitors looked sluggish from the opening whistle.
"Seven games in 23 days - five on the road [playing] the same players - is a tall order," said head coach Paul Mariner. "[Philadelphia] were sharper than us in the first half. We tried to quell it a little bit...we had a little re- group at halftime. Tried to move the ball a little bit in the second half, but it was just too much for us."
It's been a rough stretch for Toronto, but Terry Dunfield does not see the travel as an adequate excuse.
"It's definitely been a difficult week but that's part of playing in MLS," said Dunfield. "We came here straight from Dallas. It's been difficult to train because it's been 100 degrees-plus every day since we've been here, [but] these are things that you need to cope with on the road."
Vancouver is heading in the opposite direction of its Canadian counterpart.
The 'Caps are tied with Seattle Sounders FC for third place in the Western Conference on 30 points apiece. They are coming off a scoreless draw with Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.
"Overall, it's been a good few days for us to get four points out of six on the road against conference rivals," Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie said. "It also keeps the gap between us and Chivas quite large at the moment, so overall, a good couple of games."
At the heart of the stout defensive effort was goalkeeper Joe Cannon - the Whitecaps have not conceded a goal in its last two matches.
"I thought he did well again, he made a couple of good saves," Rennie said of Cannon. "One he should have held and he didn't but we got to the rebound quickly but the others he saved well and generally looked pretty strong out there."