A few weeks ago, the soccer gods blessed the New England Revolution with a home game against a depleted Toronto FC team. Today, the soccer gods have blessed the Revs with a road game against a tired TFC side...wait...
Okay, something weird is going on here and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Toronto played Wednesday against the Montreal Impact and somehow get one of two Friday Night MLS games? I bet the person who scheduled this also scheduled the Revs for Wednesday games against NYCFC and RBNY. I dislike the person who made this schedule.
I bet Waking the Red’s Oliver Platt dislikes this schedule as well though New England will apologize for nothing today. As always, head on over to WTR to read my answers to their questions including openly gushing about Diego Fagundez being good at soccer.
TBM: Which brilliant person thought it was a good idea to play this game on a Friday, two days after TFC played Montreal in the 1st leg of the Canadian Championship final? How is the team dealing with the short turnaround?
OP: The whole situation has been a little cloudy. TFC have complained about MLS' scheduling already this season - namely when they had to travel to Seattle for the Saturday lunchtime TV game having played in midweek - but this doesn't appear to be the league's fault. There was no possibility of moving the game to Saturday because the Toronto Argonauts play at BMO Field on Sunday, and more than 24 hours are needed for the turnaround from soccer to football.
Instead, I'd have to point the finger at Canada Soccer. TFC have confirmed that they asked for the Canadian Championship game to be brought forward to Tuesday, and it's not clear why that didn't happen - both ourselves and Montreal were on the same rest having played our MLS games on Saturday. Either the CSA refused or the Impact weren't willing to play ball - no one has really offered a definitive answer.
TBM: Earlier in the month TFC lost at New England without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore (USMNT duty), with only one full day off how many regulars will we see from Toronto in the starting lineup?
OP: It's tough to say. Greg Vanney said that it wouldn't be possible for anyone that crossed a certain threshold of minutes on Wednesday to play on Friday, but he picked a strong team in Montreal and if that's the case I'm not sure how he is going to fill out his lineup.
What we do know is that Alex Bono, Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez and Sebastian Giovinco will start having only been on the bench in Montreal, and Benoit Cheyrou will replace Michael Bradley (who is suspended) in midfield. Beyond that, I'd guess that Armando Cooper, Jason Hernandez, Ben Spencer and maybe Tsubasa Endoh will come in, but that still leaves a couple of spots open in defence. There's also Jay Chapman, who everyone would like to see get another start, but Vazquez plays in his position.
TBM: Halfway through the season and Toronto and Chicago have solidified their spots at the top of the East standings, how confident are you they'll be a top 2 team at the end of the year?
OP: All credit to Chicago - they've improved rapidly and had some great results through a tough stretch of late - but I still think TFC are the best team in the East and not winning the conference would be a disappointment. We all know home advantage is a big factor in this league due to the travel, and that should be an important consideration for Toronto in terms of their finishing position and the postseason.
I think the Fire have had the luxury of having a much more settled team than Toronto so far. Two of their defenders have played every minute and Johan Kappelhof isn't far off. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty have been out there about 80% of the time and Nemanja Nikolic is close to maximum minutes. TFC can only dream of that kind of consistency right now, but later in the season their key players may have a little bit less wear and tear on their legs and only injuries will be able to interrupt them putting out a full-strength team week in, week out. As long as the Reds are in touch with Chicago after the Gold Cup, I'd feel confident.
Wild lineup prediction: Bono; Zavaleta, Hernandez, Mavinga; Endoh, Cooper, Cheyrou, Vazquez, Edwards; Spencer, Giovinco.