After a disappointing loss in Dallas, Toronto FC finds itself back in hot, hostile surroundings in Orlando on Wednesday.
Saturday's 3-1 defeat in Texas, combined with Chicago's 4-0 win over visiting Vancouver, dropped Toronto (10-3-5) into second spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Fire (11-3-4).
Orlando (8-6-5) could be another tough out. Enjoying life at Orlando City Stadium, the Lions are 6-1-3 in their new digs this season. And Canadian striker Cyle Larin is back in the fold after a three-game absence following his drunk-driving arrest.
A Toronto win would be welcome ahead of a two-week break in the schedule due to the Gold Cup.
Dallas, which improved its home record to 5-1-3, split the Toronto defence early twice to lead 2-0 after just 21 minutes. For Toronto coach Greg Vanney, the poor start brought back some unpleasant memories.
He sees similarities in all three league losses this season (2-1 at Columbus on April 15, 3-0 at New England on June 3 and the Dallas game).
"We get into a rush to try to go to goal quickly. We try to force things up the middle and then we get separated from front to back and we end up in an open game where we don't necessarily give away a ton of chances but we give away these opportunities for the opposition to really counter-attack us.
"What chances they (Dallas) had were all really off of transitions, off of counter-attacks, off of what I thought were turnovers in areas that we shouldn't lose the ball."
For Vanney, it's "a little bit of us undoing ourself."
Toronto plays an aggressive 3-5-2 formation with the two wingbacks positioned high on the flanks and playmaker Victor Vazquez largely focused on attack
While captain Michael Bradley is a very effective shield in front of the back three, Toronto can be overrun after turnovers, given most of the team is going one way and the ball is going the other.
The signs were there in a 2-2 tie with visiting Atlanta in early April that saw the Toronto defence carved open twice by long passes.
In New England, two of the three goals came on counter-attacks with the outmanned Toronto defence chasing the play. Against Columbus, one of the two goals came off a turnover from a Toronto throw-in.
In both games, the other goals came from slack defending on corners.
Vanney would like to see more patience on attack from his players, "to force teams to really have to work defensively, to have to commit the appropriate numbers defensively."
"That way it takes away their ability to counter-attack. But I also think it gives us the opportunity to create some better chances."
With regulars Justin Morrow with the U.S. team and Steven Beitashour injured, Vanney used Ashtone Morgan and Oyvind Alseth at wingback against Dallas. While not pointing fingers at the fill-ins, Vanney said TFC needed to use its width more to force teams to stop sitting in the middle and come out to defend.
Toronto is also missing Armando Cooper, Raheem Edwards, Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts, all on Gold Cup duty. Beitashour remains in a Toronto hospital after undergoing surgery to repair his pancreas, damaged in a collision in last Tuesday's Canadian Championship final with the Montreal Impact.
Vanney says Beitashour is "progressing very well" but will be out for the near future to avoid collision once he is released.
On the plus side, Toronto is getting Vazquez back after the Spaniard missed the Dallas game due to a family matter.
TFC has bounced back after losses this season, going 7-0-1 in league play after the Columbus setback and 3-0-1 after the New England defeat.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press