ST. PAUL - Reigning MLS Cup champion Toronto FC has fewer wins than Minnesota United this season.
But Loons coach Adrian Heath expects Toronto to turn it around soon. He just hopes it doesn't come at the expense of his club when Minnesota (5-10-1) faces Toronto (4-9-3) at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, at TCF Bank Stadium.
"Like most people, I've been surprised because like last year I thought they were head and shoulders above everybody in the league, and I still think - I said it last week - I think they will make the playoffs," Heath said.
The Loons are looking to correct their own run of bad form. They have one win in their past seven MLS games and have lost their past three.
Adding in a 1-0 loss to Houston in the U.S. Open Cup on June 18, United has had individual errors on corner kicks result in back-breaking goals. Carter Manley and Collin Martin were at fault in the goal during the 1-0 loss to Houston; Wyatt Omberg got beat to the game-winning header in the 3-2 loss to Colorado on June 23, and Tyrone Mears was a step slow to another header in the 1-0 loss to Dallas on Friday.
"We have to eradicate that because we put too much hard work in (training) and worked too hard in the games to be taking nothing out of the last three games," Heath said.
Part of the reason Toronto has struggled is the emphasis the team put on being the first MLS club to win the CONCACAF Champions League between clubs in North and Central America and the Caribbean at the start of the season. Toronto advanced further than any MLS club but lost in the two-leg final to Chivas Guadalajara in April.
Toronto started 1-4 with its attention on the champions league and is 3-5-3 since. The team, 1-5-1 on the road, will come to Minnesota without U.S. national team striker Jozy Altidore, who has a foot injury.
"They are the champions," Loons captain Francisco Calvo said. "They are always dangerous. They have really good players and even if they are below us, you know what happened against San Jose (which beat Minnesota twice) and you know what happened against the teams like that. We are going to do our best to not let that happen again, and we need to win."
Calvo wants more
Calvo wants to bring back some of that World Cup intensity he experienced to the Loons.
"I'm pretty sure if me and my teammates are more intense and more dynamic, more touch the ball and move, we will be a different team," he said Tuesday. "So, I want to translate that and I want everyone of us in every training giving 120 percent every day because we have a privilege to play football."
Realizing a childhood dream, Calvo started and played all 90 minutes in Costa Rica's opening 1-0 World Cup loss to Serbia in Russia. He subbed on in the 75th minute in the 2-0 loss to Brazil and was on the bench during the 2-2 tie with Switzerland in his country's final game.
With one point, Costa Rica was eliminated from Group E in June and Calvo returned to Minnesota to train on Monday. He is available to play Wednesday.
After Costa Rica advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2014 World Cup, Calvo felt like Costa Rica was "unlucky" in the Serbia game 2 1/2 weeks ago. Aleksandar Kolarov's bending free kick goal from long range in the 56th minute was the difference.
"I think the game that changed the whole World Cup for us was the Serbia game because if we won that game, I'm pretty sure I'm not here today," Calvo said of potentially advancing to the round of 16.
When away with Costa Rica, Calvo learned from his mother, Fressy, that he was named to the MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 1 in Atlanta. MLS all-star coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino made Calvo one of his 14 selections for the game.
"It's an honor," Calvo said. "It's Tata. He was the Barcelona coach. He, I think, knows a lot about football, and I wasn't expecting that, to be honest, and when I arrive in Costa Rica, my mom (told) me that, and I was really happy and prayed to God."