Toronto FC (0-0-0) at Seattle (1-0-0), 4:30 p.m.
Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - New-look Toronto FC will head to CenturyLink Field on Saturday for a marquee clash with Seattle Sounders FC.
Toronto, long-time doormat in MLS, strengthened its squad considerably in the offseason, adding the likes of Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, Dwayne De Rosario, Justin Morrow, Julio Cesar and Jackson.
With such major acquisitions come added pressure, but Tim Bezbatchenko, Toronto's General Manager, welcomes the challenge.
"I think everyone is just motivated to win and do better," Bezbatchenko told reporters at TFC's media day. "Last year and the last few years have been unacceptable to the organization and to our board. You can see the passion of the players with what they have done over the offseason and the way they have come back fit and ready to go. They know it is a new ball game here.
"I'm very comfortable with the high expectations. Everyone is shooting for us and that is one of the reasons that I wanted to come to TFC in the first place, to do something different with the situation, where instead of being at the bottom, we're at the top and everybody else is trying to catch up to us. Now we haven't done anything yet, but in terms of what we have done over the offseason, we have set it up and hopefully we take advantage of all the moves."
The Sounders, meanwhile, are flying high after stealing three points from their opening fixture of the season. Seattle's contest with Sporting Kansas City was scoreless until the dying minutes when newcomer Chad Barrett capitalized on a scramble in the box to poke home the winner from close range.
Normally, Barrett's heroics would lead to some increased attention heading into the next match. But the big story Saturday's contest figures to be the five World Cup stars from three different countries that potentially could start the match.
Bradley, Toronto's midfield stalwart, is a surefire starter for the United States, as is Clint Dempsey, assuming the Sounders attacker maintains his form. Add Toronto's Julio Cesar of Brazil and Defoe of England, as well as Seattle's Brad Evans, into the mix and it's easy to see the growth of MLS.
"The league has grown considerably," Dempsey told the club's official website. "It makes it more exciting for the fans and also for the players because that's what you want. You want this to be the best league possible because this is where you're from."