After a two-game and one point road trip into New York and New Jersey, the New England Revolution would really like to get a win at Gillette Stadium today.
The bad news, Toronto FC is in town and they’re pretty good at soccer. The good news, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are away with the United States Men’s national team camp as they prepare to face Venezuela in a friendly tonight.
But what about that Sebastian Giovinco fella? We chat with Oliver Platt at Waking the Red about how TFC is going to line up tonight and perhaps how to beat Toronto if such a thing is possible. Make sure to head over to Waking the Red to read my answer’s to their questions on tonight’s game.
TBM: Okay, easy stuff first. Sebastian Giovinco has missed a few games due to injury. How close is he to returning?
OP: Seba got through 45 minutes unscathed - and scored - on Wednesday night in the Canadian Championship and has travelled with the team. There has been a bit of debate been player and medical staff about his recovery, but having looked in good shape against Ottawa he'll play some part and may well start.
TBM: Even if Giovinco did walk through that door...TFC is on an 8-game unbeaten streak and have won 7 of those 8 games. Just how well is Toronto playing right now and what has been the key(s) to that success.
OP: At home, they're playing very, very well and look extremely difficult to beat. On the road, it's been a little scrappier at times but they still picked up two wins and a draw in May at Seattle, Columbus and the Red Bulls, which is pretty good going.
The key has been their depth, because they've been stretched almost every game by injuries and players needing rest in an eight-game month. A number of players who would not get in their best starting lineup have stepped up to the plate in a big way - most notably Ricketts and Benoit Cheyrou.
They also have a remarkable ability to put together a dominant final 20 minutes regardless of what has happened in the 70 prior. Ricketts and Cheyrou, again, have played a major part in that when they have come off the bench and Greg Vanney's in-game adjustments have also been impressive.
TBM: Most people know about the TFC attack, but it's their defense that should get a lot more praise, especially wingbacks Betaishour and Morrow. How do you think the 3-5-2 will match up against New England?
OP: Potentially not very well - the most effective way I've seen teams play against the 3-5-2 is with a big target up front and two narrow attacking midfielders working off him, which obviously New England are very familiar with. It leaves the three central defenders with only one player to mark (meaning having three at the back is a waste of a man), overloads the defensive midfielder and forces the wing-backs to drop back and tuck in to help.
That possible problem aside, Beitashour and Morrow are two of the more underrated players in the league for my money. The fact that Morrow can play centre-back in the back three - where you might seem him tomorrow - but also be such an attacking threat at wing-back speaks to how complete his game has become, and Beitashour is the perfect defensive counter-balance (whether for Morrow or Raheem Edwards) on the other side. They've both really benefited from the switch to 3-5-2 for various reasons.
The lineup is incredibly difficult to predict at the minute because there's so much rotation. I'll go... Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Morrow; Beitashour, Osorio, Cheyrou, Vazquez, Edwards; Giovinco, Hamilton.
Ricketts has hamstring tightness and we're pretty sure he's not travelled. Nick Hagglund is out for a while, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Armando Cooper are on international duty and Marky Delgado is suspended.
I'm a bit pessimistic about this one; unbeaten runs have to end somewhere and I think they feel the absence of Bradley more than anyone else on the roster. So I'll go 2-1 to the Revs.