Toronto, ON – Both Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC enter Saturday's match at BMO Field riding modest two-game winning streaks.
But the biggest story by far is the expected debut of Seattle's Clint Dempsey, who made the surprising move to leave Tottenham in the English Premier League and return to Major League Soccer.
Dempsey completed the switch last Saturday and was unveiled to the Seattle fans at halftime of the Sounders' 3-0 win over FC Dallas.
The arrival of Dempsey instantly upgrades what has been an inconsistent Sounders team this season, but head coach Sigi Schmid has acknowledged that it will still take a bit of time to figure out how Dempsey's arrival will alter the style of the team.
"When you add a quality player, it makes you that much better as a team," Schmid said. "Where exactly and how we're going to play, that's something that we're going to work out in the next few days on the training ground and in the next three or four games as people get to understand each other and understand their roles and how their roles maybe change a little bit."
Dempsey's last appearances in MLS came with the New England Revolution in 2006, and his first order of business will be to help the Sounders regain their road form, which has been below par this season.
Seattle has been one of the better teams away from home over the past few years, putting together a 24-18-22 mark on the road from 2009-12.
But Schmid's team has put together a 3-6-1 away mark this season, and with three of the next four games away from CenturyLink Field, Seattle must turn things around.
"We've just got to go out there with the same approach," Schmid said when asked about what must be done to collect a few more points on the road. "We've always gone out with the approach when we're on the road that we're going to win the game."
The Sounders have won the last four meetings with Toronto, but TFC is poised to end that streak and continue one of its own.
Head coach Ryan Nelsen saw his team collect back-to-back wins for the first time since last July over the past two weeks with a 2-1 win over Columbus followed by a 1-0 road victory at New England.
Toronto still sits in ninth place in the 10-team Eastern Conference, and is 13 points out of the final playoff spot, but Nelsen is viewing the past two results as a step in the right direction, and that his young team is still learning.
"Things don't happen overnight obviously and we are all learning from each other and we're getting better and better," Nelsen said following the win over New England. "We are a very young team and sometimes they have to go through experiences in games."