Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney said he's happy to get some fresh horses in the lineup when his team plays its third game in eight days. In truth, he's getting back a couple of thoroughbreds.
Toronto will have designated players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore available when it hosts Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Altidore was suspended for Toronto's 4-1 win over Orlando City on Wednesday after picking up a red card in the team's previous match, while Bradley has not played an MLS game since June 27 due to international commitments and a calf injury.
"You can't push all the horses every single game," Vanney said. "We're fortunate in some ways we got the win (on Wednesday). Jozy didn't play 90, obviously he got the rest. Michael's coming back from some rest. We've got some horses that are going to come in fresh and that's always important."
Altidore is a big part of Toronto's potent offence, with seven goals in 15 games this season. The forward is second on the team behind star Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco, who leads the MLS with 16 goals.
Bradley, meanwhile, is Toronto's inspirational captain and the heart of its midfield.
Bradley's return is timely, as Toronto could be without midfielder Benoit Cheyrou, who was assessed a yellow card for a rough challenge during the 75th minute of Wednesday's win. According to reports, Cheyrou is will be suspended by the league.
"The word on the street is that we could be missing him so we're preparing for that," Vanney said. "It was a hard challenge for sure. Was it worthy of suspension? That's their decision and we'll deal with it."
While representing the Americans at the Gold Cup, Bradley kept a close eye on his MLS club. He believes it's a team to be reckoned with as it makes a push to secure its first MLS playoff berth.
"We feel that way. It's up to us to prove it every time we step on the field," he said. "At the end of it, nobody can control what people on the outside think of us as a team. To be honest, we're not altogether worried about that. We feel good about the group we have (and) about the progress that we continue to make.
"(We're) confident that when the most important part of the season comes, and the biggest games come, that we'll be ready."
Sporting KC enters the match following a 1-1 draw with Houston last weekend. Currently fourth in the Western Conference, Kansas City (9-4-7) has just four losses this season and have points in four of their last five games, with their only loss coming against Real Salt Lake.
"They're scrappy, they're competitive, they'll close you down, they'll be organized — they'll be stingy in all ways," said Vanney. "They've got a system that they work out of, and we just need to be aggressive like we were the other night."
Saturday marks the lone meeting of the season between the two clubs. Sporting KC, which moved to the Western Conference won two of three games between the two sides last season, with Toronto earning a 2-2 draw in May.
In 10 all-time meetings at BMO Field Toronto is 3-4-3 against Kansas City.
Scoring first will be key for Toronto. Sporting KC has conceded the game's first goal in all four of its losses.
"When we score first, we're a pretty good team and when we get on top of teams, especially as the game progresses and teams have to try to come at us," said Vanney. "When teams have to come at us, it leaves them very exposed with the guys that we have in transition."
Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press