The New England Revolution will hope to extend their recent winning streak to three games on Sunday night against Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. After gutsy second-half performances earned road victories in Columbus and D.C., the Revs will surely hope that home cooking will help them overcome the struggling Reds with a little more ease and peace of mind.
Toronto is having a typically Toronto season, with high personnel turnover, front office uncertainty, and an awful record. That doesn't mean they are a side devoid of talent; it does, however, mean that the Revs should look at this as a must-win.
TBM: Let's kick it off right. Last week was a big, big win for you guys. It was the first for Toronto in quite some time this year, and it was a case where, for once, the Reds weren't the ones conceding late. How important will that win be in salvaging something respectable from 2013, or is this season already so far gone that it doesn't matter anyway?
KK: The win was a big one and not conceding late was actually the least of the accomplishments - at least in terms of getting a huge monkey of their back - the fact that it was the first win at BMO in over a year actually brought the most relief. That lack of wins at home was not only wearing on the team, but was fuelling the growing apathy throughout the fanbase. However the combination of a home win and no late goal concession? Very satisfying in the moment.
But does it salvage anything for this season? No, not on it's own. This season was a lost cause from the very beginning; It's what happens in the next month, and the month after that and the off-season that will tell whether this version of TFC is on track to something different from the previous six seasons. We really are in pre-season for the 2014 season.
TBM: Last time we spoke, we discussed Ryan Nelsen's impact on the team and whether or not he was going to be able to right the ship. He and Kevin Payne seem to say the right things, but this is shaping up to be just as poor a season as ever in Toronto. Are you starting to see signs of improvement yet, or will TFC need to change up the guard yet again to start pushing their way to relevancy?
KK: There are improvements; tiny, barely perceptible at times, but improvements. Forgetting the back to back 3 goal games at the beginning of last month, Nelsen does have this team playing a much better defensive game. They're also slowly bringing in better players, the problem is that they're surrounded by lesser parts. Matias Laba is a prime example - obviously the most talented player for Toronto and if they don't mess things up, he will be a huge factor in any future success. The problem is that he doesn't have much to work with in terms of quality team-mates; yet.
A changing of the guard yet again would be a detriment in my opinion. As frustrating as this season (and the six before it) this team can't keep blowing itself up every few months. I'd like to see what they can accomplish with the remainder of this transfer window and the rest of the season. After starting the season with some panic signings, they seem to have settled down and are slowly adding players. Admittedly they've mostly been of the cheap depth variety (Bloom, Thomas and possibly Elmer) but additions like Laba, Steven Caldwell and even Bobby Convey (who's finally rounding into form) are having a positive influence on how the team is playing.
TBM: Diego Forlan was the big name around the water cooler in connection with the Reds this summer, but with that deal dead, Toronto just picked up Jonas Elmer instead. You were looking at a forward, and then acquired a defender, which seems strange. Regardless, do you feel like TFC got their man with Elmer, or will he be just another drifter passing through the Great White North?
KK: I don't think anyone - including Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen - would refer to the signing of Elmer as "getting their man". He's a depth signing who may have some potential as a future piece of the never-ending TFC puzzle. He could be the answer at left-back - especially if Ashtone Morgan can't regain his form. But more than likely he'll join the record setting ranks of former Reds by first kick next season.
TBM: Who do you think Toronto fears most on the pitch for New England?
KK: For a team that rarely finds ways to put the ball in the net I think it's safe to say that Andrew Farrell strikes a fair amount of fear. And from an offensive standpoint Diego Fagundez and his ability to slash through the midfield and score from wherever he wants is a mildly scary prospect.
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
KK: I doubt that Nelsen will change things up much from the last few games - with one exception. I'll go with Joe Bendik, Richard Eckersley, Steven Caldwell, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan (Elmer won't start but Morgan needs to watch his back), Matias Laba, Jeremy Hall, Jonathan Osoria, Bobby Convey, Jeremy Brockie and based on his performance from last week and Justin Braun's lack of performance a rare start for Andrew Wiedeman as both Robert Earnshaw and Danny Koevermans are still out injured.
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