After drawing 1-1 at Gillette Stadium earlier this year, the New England Revolution and Toronto FC meet again. Only this time, Jay Heaps' squad is heading north of the border to BMO Field on Saturday night in search of three points.
The Revs are coming off a week in which they lost 3-1 at Orlando City SC, traded Charlie Davies to the Philadelphia Union and a notable cohort of the fanbase is furious with the front office. Meanwhile, Toronto is coming off three wins in MLS play and is surging up the Eastern Conference table.
Who will budge? Who's the most dangerous player on Greg Vanney's side? Can the Revs rescue their season? Answers to those questions will surface soon, and Mitchell Tierney of SB Nation's Waking the Red is here to provide some insight.
The Bent Musket: Toronto has won three games straight and kept a clean sheet against its last two opponents. What is clicking right now for Greg Vanney's squad?
Waking The Red: In a word: everything. This is the best soccer that this team has played all season as they have finally been able to put together a consistent run of form. Defensively they have been good all season, courtesy of the offseason additions of Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour alongside the emergence of Eriq Zavaleta and the consistency of Justin Morrow. There was some worry when starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin went down to injury a few weeks back. However, Alex Bono has stepped in admirably and already has three clean sheets on the season.
Until recently, it has been the offence that has been holding the team back. But the return of Jozy Altidore coinciding with the addition of Tosaint Ricketts has seen Toronto FC score eight goals in their last three games. Altidore is expected to make his first start since May on Saturday, and you can expect him and Sebastian Giovinco to be a threat all night long.
Finally, after some contentious teams this season, Toronto FC look like they are having fun on the pitch. This has led them to play some incredible free flowing soccer lately.
TBM: So much has been made of Toronto's youth contingent. How vital are they? Is there a young gun the Revs should be especially mindful of?
WTR: It's hard to know where Toronto FC's season would be right now without their youth stepping up, but it wouldn't be in good shape, to say the least. When starting goalkeeper Irwin went down with injury, Bono was able to step into his role admirable. When Will Johnson, Benoit Cheyrou and Michael Bradley were injured, Tsubasa Endoh, Marky Delgado and Jay Chapman stepped up. With Jozy Altidore out it was Mo Babouli and Jordan Hamilton who kept the offense running.
It has really been something to watch all of these talents blossom at once for Toronto FC. Suddenly, they have gone from a team that looked paper thin to one that has a solid backup option in every single role on the field. Considering their low cap hits this is invaluable.
If there is one of these rookies that New England needs to be mindful of, it is Chapman. Lately, the attacking midfielder has been playing the best soccer of his career as he creates chances all over the field for Toronto. While he hasn't quite found his scoring boots just yet, it seems like only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net. Perhaps Saturday will be the night. Hamilton is also a threat to score off the bench.
TBM: The Revs, like many teams in MLS, have been poor away from home this season. What has been the difference in their play at home versus on the road?
WTR: Maybe, but Toronto FC will be tired. A number of injuries has led to a lack of squad rotation that seemed to slow down the club on Wednesday. They still got the win over Real Salt Lake, but it wasn't quite as fluid a performance. Things could meltdown on Saturday if Toronto don't keep their concentration, and they will be relying heavily on players like Altidore to keep them energized.
Davies is certainly a big miss, but New England has always been a team who threaten Toronto FC based on their attacking pedigree. Kei Kamara consistently scores against them, and it would come as no surprise if he did it again.
If anything Toronto FC is ripe for the picking. But their recent form and confidence may be enough to get them another big result.