This is unfamiliar territory for TFC (10-7-6) and their long-suffering fans, who have driven their team to four straight wins at BMO Field. The Reds scored 12 goals and conceded just two during the momentous period.
For the players, Houston and the accompanying heat will be a stern test of their Supporters Shield credentials. The game at Compass Stadium (Kick-off 9:00 p.m. ET) begins a three-game road spin for the Reds whose away record reads 3-6-3.
“Of course it will be different on the road,” says Sebastian Giovinco. “But we have to have the same mentality.”
Now leading the MLS Golden Boot standings, Giovinco has seven goals in his last four games while his striking partner Jozy Altidore has two in three. Altidore score against Houston in their only meeting last season, when TFC slipped to a 2-1 home loss.
This weekend’s road game will also be a barometer of just how far rookie goalkeeper Alex Bono has come since his shaky debut back in June, when he came on for the injured Clint Irwin in Orlando and assisted in Toronto dropping a 3-2 result.
Club-captain Michael Bradley, on return from injury, was imperious against New England last weekend. Greg Vanney will be pleased the return of the Yankee general didn’t disrupt the midfield dynamism fuelled by youth and in particular Marky Delgado, who anchored the diamond in the absence of Bradley and Benoit Cheyrou. The Frenchman is close to a return himself from a short layoff with a hamstring problem.
Meanwhile the Dynamo (4-10-8) sit last place in the West, winless in five games after a 1-0 defeat in Montreal. Wade Barrett’s side have struggled for goals during the fallow period, finding the net only once.
American Will Bruin has lead the line for the Orangemen since Jamaican striker Giles Barnes was traded to Vancouver last month. Despite the current trouble of the two-time MLS Cup winners, Toronto haven’t won in Houston since 2010. By Saturday’s end we’ll may know if this incarnation of TFC is for real.
Toronto FC: A.Bono, S.Beitashour, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Bradley, J.Chapman, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, T.Ricketts, S.Giovinco
Houston Dynamo: J.Willis, A.Mansally, J.Anibaba, D.Horst, S.Williams, C.Warner, B.Garcia, C.Maidana, R.Clark, A.Wenger, W.Bruin
Referee: Hilario Grajeda