TORONTO - Despite suffering two successive losses, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney reckons his team can get back on track with a win Saturday in Chicago.
The game against the Fire is the fourth straight on the road for Toronto (1-2-0) with three more to come until the team gets to play at home due to BMO Field renovations.
"We want out of these first four matches to at least have half of the points," said Vanney. "That would be a good start for us."
The Fire (1-3-0) defeated the Philadelphia Union 1-0 last week but stand 18th in the league's informal weekly power rankings.
"I've been happy with the performances, just not the results," said Chicago coach Frank Yallop.
Two goals in four matches haven't helped.
"We respect them for sure," said Vanney, whose teams ranks 10th in those power rankings. "They are a team that have some weapons at their disposal and they can hurt you if given the opportunity."
Keeping a lid on influential Chicago midfielder Harry Shipp will have to be a part of the plan. So will dealing with crosses, which continues to be an Achilles heel for Toronto.
Both teams are getting designated players back from international duty: midfielder Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore (both U.S.) for Toronto and midfielders Shaun Maloney (Scotland) and David Accam (Ghana) for Chicago.
Fullback Justin Morrow also returns from suspension to add some welcome stability to a Toronto backline that has been in flux in recent weeks.
Toronto will be without injured centre backs Steven Caldwell and Damien Perquis (both calf) for a second week. Also missing are reserve defenders Mark Bloom (quad) and Eriq Zavaleta (ankle) and suspended backup striker Luke Moore.
Fire goalie Sean Johnson is a question-mark due to an eye injury suffered in training. Veteran Jon Busch wilt step in if needed.
Toronto is coming off losses in Columbus (2-0) and Real Salt Lake (2-1).
"We're at home, we've got to be on the front foot," said Yallop. "We've got to be ready for their attacking play which has obviously improved with the guys they signed. And just play our game."
Italian playmaker Sebastian Giovinco is finding his feet for Toronto and is more dangerous every game out. He is also a wonderful provider in dead-ball situations.
"Tough game," said Yallop. "They're a tough side."
Toronto's record against the Fire is poor, mired in an 11-game winless streak (0-5-6) that dates back to May 2010. It's the third-longest active mark in the league.
Toronto has never won in Chicago, posting an 0-4-5 career record. TFC recorded a pair of 1-1 ties there last season, with a potential September victory negated by a controversially disallowed Dwayne De Rosario goal.
The Fire have Canadian ties. Yallop and assistant coach Marc Bircham are both former Canadian international players while Yallop also coached the national team. Strength and conditioning coach Adrian Lamb used to be Toronto's fitness coach.
NOTES: The Fire have Spanish midfielder Victor Perez Alonso in on a short-term loan. Yallop said he is not expected to play Saturday.
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