Chicago Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson expects Toronto FC to come out “defending their turf” when the two Eastern Conference strugglers meet on Saturday night.

Toronto snapped a five-match MLS losing run with a late draw against D.C. United last time out, but still remain in the pits of the East table.

The Canadian side is without a win in six league games, but the Fire have not won in 10 games in all competitions – leaving them bottom of the table – and Hendrickson expects another tough task.

“They’re at home, and I expect them to come out fighting for those three points,” he said. “We are going to into there just like we did with the Red Bulls and against NYCFC, trying to get three points. I expect them to come out defending their turf, so to speak. We’re going to go there looking for three points, so it’ll be a good game, even though it’s two teams that find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern table right now.

“We need to start picking up points, and we’re going to go to Toronto looking to do just that.”

Meanwhile, Toronto coach Bob Bradley hopes to use a Canadian Championship win over HFX Wanderers FC as inspiration.

“Every place I’ve been, when you first enter the Cup you play away games against teams like Halifax. It’s the same around the world, those games just take on a whole different feel,” explained Bradley. “You’ve got to be at your best, you’ve got to be sharp, and often times if you’re just a little bit off in certain moments, the other team starts to believe and they hang in there, and then the game becomes a real fight. And that’s what (that win) is all about.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto FC – Jesus Jimenez

Jimenez leads the way in MLS for Toronto with seven goals in 13 games. He also collected his second assist of the season last time out.

Chicago Fire – Kacper Przybylko

Goals have been hard to come by for the Fire with top scorer Xherdan Shaqiri injured. Przybylko will have to take up the mantle in his absence.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Toronto is unbeaten in its last 13 matches against the Fire (W10 D3) dating back to September 2015. The 13-game streak is the longest unbeaten run against an opponent in Toronto FC’s MLS history and is one off the MLS regular season record of 14 straight without defeat against a single opponent, done four times.

– Toronto FC ended its five-match losing streak with a late goal against D.C. United to earn a 2-2 away draw. The Reds were unable to end their run without a clean sheet, with the draw marking the 21st consecutive MLS match without a shutout for Toronto. That equals the club record it set immediately before this run.

– Chicago’s winless run extended to nine games (D3 L6) following a 1-0 loss at New York City on Sunday. The Fire have had just two double-digit winless runs in a single season in MLS history, with both coming in the 2011 campaign (11 straight from April-June, 10 straight from June-August).

– Jonathan Osorio scored his third goal of the season in Toronto’s draw with D.C. on Saturday. Osorio has scored six times against the Fire in MLS play, more than against any other opponent in his career, though the last of those goals was scored over three years ago in April 2019.

– The Fire have scored an MLS-low 11 times in 13 games this season. Since 2000, teams have scored 11 goals or fewer at this stage of a season 24 times, with only five of those going on to make the playoffs. Two of them (NYCFC & Nashville) did so in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.