On Saturday, the Revolution will host Toronto FC in a meeting of two teams on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference table. Here are five storylines to follow ahead of the match:
1. Can the Revs stall Toronto’s dream run?
Six months after the Sounders came to Toronto and clinched an MLS Cup title, the Reds have looked virtually unbeatable. Greg Vanney’s side is off to an impressive 8-1-5 start and hasn’t lost since April 15.
Much of this success can be attributed to a roster that boasts more depth than any club in MLS. Toronto has proven it can take care of business even with a patchwork lineup, as evidence by a 5-0 rout of Crew SC a week ago, when the team played without Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco.
Can the Revs pull off an upset? To do so, Antonio Delamea & Co. will need to slow down an attack that has scored 26 goals—second most in MLS—this season.
2. Will the Revs attack start strong again?
If MLS matches only lasted 45 minutes, the Revolution might sit above the red line in the Eastern Conference. The club has scored more first-half goals (16) than any team in the league (except for Houston, who has also scored 16). That’s a rate of 1.14 goals per first half.
This trend continued on Wednesday, when Kei Kamara finished a Lee Nguyen corner to help the Revs equalize with NYCFC. Against a potent attacking team like Toronto, scoring early will prove key in earning a result at Gillette Stadium.
3. Can Toronto stay on track without two key players?
After playing its last league match without Altidore and Giovinco, Vanney will face a new challenge on Saturday, with Michael Bradley also set to miss the match while away on international duty. Bruce Arena called both Bradley and Altidore into USMNT camp last week.
Without these two roster mainstays, Vanney will need another gutsy performance from his bench if he wants to earn a ninth straight result.
4. How will each team react to playing on short rest?
Saturday’s contest will serve as the third match in eight days for the Revolution and the third in nine for Toronto FC. After suffering a 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls last weekend, the Revs earned a draw with NYCFC on Wednesday. Toronto beat Crew SC on Friday and then took down the Ottawa Fury (USL) during a midweek Canadian Championship match.
How will each club respond? In need of a win, and looking to take advantage of his team’s play at Gillette, Jay Heaps may still select a first-choice lineup (minus Xavier Kouassi, who has been ruled out with a groin strain). Vanney won’t have that luxury, with Bradley and Altidore away on USMNT duty. With the international break around the corner, Vanney may decide to give his remaining core players and extended breather.
5. Will Toronto end the Revs’ home unbeaten streak?
As good as Toronto FC has looked this season, the Revolution have looked almost as dominant when playing at home. The club has gone unbeaten in 10 straight at Gillette Stadium, outscoring opponents 26-7 during that span. Against the Reds all-time, the Revs have continued this trend, amassing a 7-2-4 record in Foxboro.
Can Toronto reverse the trend, and pick up a rare road win at Gillette?