It was a recipe for disaster, but it turned out to be a feast of good fortune for Toronto FC.
Few gave the struggling Canadian club much of a chance Wednesday night against Chivas USA, the best team in Major League Soccer, especially with Toronto lacking the influential Dwayne De Rosario in the starting lineup.
But Toronto overcame the absence of its injured star midfielder — and its head coach — to earn a 1-0 victory over Chivas thanks to Amado Guevara's first-half goal.
Toronto improved to 2-2-2, snapping a four-game winless streak and earning its first home win of the season in the process.
Chivas (4-1-1) suffered its first loss of the campaign.
De Rosario is out indefinitely after aggravating a hamstring injury in Sunday's 3-2 loss to FC Dallas.
He has already been ruled out for Toronto's next game — Sunday at home against the Kansas City Wizards — and the belief is the veteran Canadian midfielder could be on the sidelines even longer.
Argentine Pablo Vitti played in De Rosario's place against Chivas and looked impressive.
Also of note, Toronto coach John Carver handed over the reins to assistant Chris Cummins.
Carver was fined $750 US by MLS on Tuesday for calling referee Tim Weyland's performance "a disgrace" in Toronto's loss in Texas.
That game was decided by an 84th minute penalty kick that gave Dallas the win.
It was a controversial decision by referee Weyland, who concluded that Toronto defender Marvell Wynne intentionally handled the ball with his arm in the 18-yard box.
In light of his public criticism of Weyland, Carver told reporters Tuesday that maybe it was best if he didn't take his usual spot on the sidelines for the Chivas contest.
A club official told CBCSports.ca that Carver watched the game from a private box.
Cummins deflected questions from reporters after the game as to why Carver took the night off.
"I think because the game was on TV and I'm a bit better looking," Cummins joked. "No, John obviously had his reasons and I don't want to talk about it."
Team-leading third goal for Guevara
Toronto controlled possession and dictated the pace from the opening kickoff before taking the lead in the 36th minute.
A botched clearance by the Chivas defence saw the ball fall to Danny Dichio, and the Toronto forward played a perfect header into the path of the on-rushing Guevara, who expertly slotted it home.
The goal was Guevara's team-leading third of the season.
Toronto nearly doubled its advantage just before halftime.
Vitti sent Chad Barrett clear on a breakaway, but Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton came up with a great save to deny the Toronto forward.
The second half was more of the same, with Toronto calling the tune.
Dichio should have scored on a point-blank header in the 62nd minute, but again, Thornton came up with a save worthy of the highlight reel.
Chivas never sustained any kind of offensive pressure, and the odd time they did break forward, they were easily repelled by a stalwart Toronto defence, including on a corner kick in injury time.
Guevara was taken off the field on a stretcher late in the game after colliding with a Chivas player, but the Honduran told reporters after the game he wasn't seriously hurt.
Cummins was impressed with the overall effort of his players after an admittedly poor outing against Dallas, and heaped praise on the team's much maligned defence, which registered its first shutout of the year.
"You have to take your hat off to the lads," Cummins said. "They take a lot of [criticism] at times, but I have to say tonight they bounced back and thoroughly deserved the victory."