Toronto FC, whose season-long home win streak evaporated Wednesday in an ugly 5-3 loss to Montreal, may be without star strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore again this weekend.
The club is trying to allow both to recover from lower body tightness in advance of the MLS playoffs.
The good news is star playmaker Victor Vazquez is recovering from an illness that restricted him to the bench Wednesday and could see action Saturday at New England.
Coach Greg Vanney was keeping his cards close to his chest Thursday.
"Most of the guys are still in consideration for the weekend," he said, shedding little light on the matter.
But Vanney then essentially said Giovinco will skip the weekend game on the artificial turf of Gillette Stadium.
"He's on a slightly different protocol that doesn't necessarily involve Saturday. He's got a little bit longer-term picture here."
So expect Giovinco not to play, with Altidore unlikely to be risked barring a miraculous recovery. Vazquez could well see action, even if just off the bench.
"I feel better," the Spaniard said. "It was a little hard the last two days."
The three have a combined 35 goals and 27 assists for TFC this season.
Vazquez is a key player for TFC. Not only does he offer the team a clear attacking vision, he has a good rapport with captain Michael Bradley in the midfield and his movement around the field helps set Toronto's tone.
Without Vazquez pulling the strings and missing the outlet of Giovinco and Altidore up front, the Toronto attack seemed hurried and haphazard Wednesday, especially when chasing an early 3-0 Montreal lead.
Giovinco and Altidore have missed the last two games, largely as a precautionary measure after coming out of the Sept. 9 win over San Jose early — due to a tight quad for Giovinco and hamstring for Altidore.
Altidore worked out with a member of the team's training staff Thursday, taking time out to assure reporters from a distance that he was feeling good.
But Vanney and his staff will likely take no chances given Toronto's 11-point lead atop the MLS standings.
A Toronto win Saturday, coupled with a tie or loss by New York City FC, will assure TFC of the Supporters' Shield which goes to the team with the best regular-season record. It also means home playoff advantage and the right to host the MLS Cup.
"The guys are a little down," said veteran defender Drew Moor, when asked about the team's mood in the wake of the Montreal loss. "There's still positivity obviously. The guys are kind of discussing it in small groups, trying to put it behind us and take what few positives maybe there were from it, and learn from the many negatives that there were from the match.
"But the mood has very quickly turned to New England, which is a game we feel like if we go and play TFC football and play the soccer we've been playing all season that we should feel confident to go in and get three points."
Toronto (18-4-8) goes into the weekend game with a 27-point advantage over New England (10-14-5) which fired coach Jay Heaps this week.
The Revs, however, are 10-2-2 at home and beat Toronto there 3-0 in June.
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