Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto FC continues its seven-game road trip to start the season on Sunday with a stop at Rio Tinto Stadium to tangle with Real Salt Lake.
While TFC's BMO Field undergoes refurbishing, Greg Vanney's side must endure a run of seven successive away games, but Sunday's fixture promises to be among the most difficult with the side missing a number of key pieces for the contest.
International obligations will hit both teams hard, but Toronto will be without United States national team duo Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, while Justin Morrow is suspended and a number of defenders are battling injury issues including Steven Caldwell, Mark Bloom and Eriq Zavaleta.
Altidore scored a pair of goals in TFC's 3-1 win over Vancouver to open the season, but with so many missing parts in Vanney's lineup, Toronto will be facing the prospect of second successive defeat in Salt Lake.
The club lost 2-0 at Columbus two weeks ago, and after a one-week break, the team that will take the field on Sunday will look much different because of the absences.
But there is one positive for Vanney in that he will have the services of Italy international Sebastian Giovinco, who was not called into the Italian side by manager Antonio Conte.
"We were on pins and needles waiting to find out if there was going to be another player that we needed to make adjustments to fill that spot," Vanney said Giovinco. "I'm sure on some level [Giovinco] wanted to be there, and for that, I feel for him. I'm sure he'll get his chance. But for us, we're happy that we have him as an option here."
Another player who Vanney will be able to call upon is former RSL forward Robbie Findley, who returns to Rio Tinto for the first time as an opposing player.
Salt Lake will also be missing a handful players due to international duty, including goalkeeper Nick Rimando as well as Luis Gil, Elias Vasquez and Alvaro Saborio.
Jeff Cassar's club hasn't gotten off to a great start this season with back- to-back draws to begin the campaign, including a 3-3 deadlock with the Philadelphia Union last time out.
RSL started with a 0-0 stalemate in Portland, but was a bit fortunate to claim a point at home against the Union two weeks ago as Saborio converted a late penalty kick which Salt Lake probably didn't deserve.
Like Toronto, RSL had last week off, and even though it came so early in the season, midfielder Kyle Beckerman believes his side made the most of the situation.
"The week off really gave us a chance to put in a good solid week of training and then also gave some people with some bumps and bruises from the first two weeks to get a little rest," Beckerman said during an interview on ESPN 700. "What are you going to do? We just took it in a positive way and tried to make the best of it."
Cassar's men will once again try to make the best of a home match with TFC as Salt Lake has won six of seven all-time meetings between the sides in the state of Utah.