Colorado (2-1-1) at Toronto FC (3-1-0), 4 p.m.
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto FC hopes to continue its strong start to the 2014 campaign on Saturday when the club hosts the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field.
Toronto has won three of its first four games to begin the season, including an impressive 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew last weekend, and Ryan Nelsen's men will attempt to keep that momentum going against a Rapids side that is also in good form.
Colorado has won two of its last three games following a 2-1 victory over Vancouver in its last match, which was the first defeat of the season for the Whitecaps.
The Crew started this season with three successive wins, but a first-half goal from Michael Bradley put TFC in front before Issey Nakajima-Farran came off the bench in the second half to score his first MLS goal five minutes from time.
"It was a very professional and hardened performance," Nelsen told reporters via conference call after the win over the Crew. "It's very hard to win away in this league and to be able to take two road wins in these four games is very pleasing. To perform like this away from home gives us a lot of confidence."
Nelsen's team is playing well but the boss may have to patch together a lineup for Saturday's contest with a number of key players possibly missing out through injury.
Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Dwayne De Rosario, Alvaro Rey, Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio all missed time in practice for Toronto this week, meaning that Nelsen may have to get creative when filling out his lineup card.
The absence of both Defoe and Bradley would be especially tough to overcome, but Nelsen is already looking ahead to having his full side healthy and how much of a difference it will make.
"To have nine points out of four [games], I'm obviously extremely happy with that," Nelsen said. "Once we get playing together and get our combinations together we'll be a different animal."
Colorado needed to score two goals in the final 11 minutes of its win over Vancouver last weekend after Darren Mattocks put the Whitecaps in front in the 66th minute.
That task was made a bit easier by the sending off of Vancouver's Matias Laba in the 77th minute, with Jose Mari taking full advantage for the Rapids as he netted two goals in the span of two minutes to hand the Rapids all three points.
The 35-year-old Mari was signed in the offseason and he is proving to be a valuable addition for head coach Pablo Mastroeni, who praised the former Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal and Real Betis man following the win.
"He brings a wealth of experience having played in Europe all these years," Mastroeni said of Mari. "As we started building this team we started looking at players who can move the ball quickly and he has a great sense of spacing from the offensive standpoint. Also he's a guy who likes to get mixed in, tackle and win balls. He's your all around complete six and you know we're delighted to have him around. More importantly it's the aura that he gives the other guys on the team."