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Third trip the charm? Revs visit Toronto FC, seek first 2018 win in Canada

A loss in Montreal and a draw in Vancouver are all New England has to show for previous ventures north of the border this season

MLS: Toronto FC at New England Revolution Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The good news? New England is currently on a four-match unbeaten run, leaving the annual summer swoon in the dust. The bad news? After dropping home points for the second time in four weeks, the Revolution are effectively eliminated from playoff contention for 2018.

With reigning champs Toronto FC in a similar situation, this match pits two clubs preparing for next season. It’s quite possible we’ll see a fair amount of play from reserves and those auditioning for roster spots in 2019.

First Meeting: May 12, 2018, at Gillette Stadium

Result: Revs 3, Toronto FC 2

Following their poorest showing of the year to date, a 4-2 loss at Montreal, the Revolution returned home to face a battered and bruised TFC squad struggling to find its form. New England jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the first seven minutes thanks to a Cristian Penilla brace, then held on for a 3-2 win. The Reds used a second-choice lineup, only bringing on stalwarts Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio late in the match to try to salvage a draw.

Toronto FC: A Closer Look

Record: 8-15-6, 30 pts, 50 GF, 57 GA, -7 GD

Standing: 9th in Eastern Conference (10 points below red line)

Current Form: L-W-L-L-W

Home Stats:

Record: 6-6-2, 20 points (1.4 points/match), +5 GD

GF: 30 (2.1 GF/match)

GA: 25 (1.8 GA/match)

The reigning MLS champs suffered a similar fate to that of FC Dallas last season, stumbling out of the gate in March after having started CONCACAF Champions League competition in mid-February. Fixture congestion even continued to September, as Toronto FC played in and lost 3-1 to Liga MX powerhouse Tigres in the inaugural Campeones Cup last week. Along the way, the Reds contested for the Canadian Championship (since they’re not eligible for the US Open Cup), winning their third straight trophy.

These extra matches, coupled with lack of depth and injuries — primarily the loss of Jozy Altidore for a few months, contributed to a poor start to the 2018 MLS campaign. The club was never able to recover and now stands just one or two bad results away from playoff elimination. It could happen as early as this weekend.

The Reds have scored plenty of goals this season (50), but their defending has been suspect. Only three teams (Orlando City, LA Galaxy, and San Jose) have allowed more balls into the net than Toronto FC’s 57, but two of those clubs have played one more match. Even at home, TFC has let in almost two goals per match and only own a +5 goal differential at BMO Field.

Ironically, as the season winds down, Toronto FC finds itself with a light schedule and a healthy roster. Only five league matches remain on the docket — just like for New England, and defender Drew Moor is the sole player on the injury report.

Team Leaders (at home):

Goals:

Giovinco/Altidore/Osorio - 6

Vazquez - 5

Assists:

Osorio/Giovinco - 4

van der Wiel/Delgado/Morrow - 2

Key Passes (per game):

Osorio - 2.5

Giovinco - 2.4

Vazquez - 2.0

Passing %:

van der Wiel - 90.7

Osorio - 89.9

Zavaleta - 88.4

Tackles (per game):

Morrow - 2.5

Delgado - 2.3

Zavaleta - 2.2

Clearances (per game):

Zavaleta - 2.6

Hagglund - 2.5

Morrow - 2.4

Goalkeeping (overall):

Alex Bono

Save % - 66.7

GA/gm - 1.73

Shutouts - 3

Primary Formation: 3-5-2

Projected XI:

A. Bono

E. Zavaleta (or C. Mavinga) — M. Bradley — N. Hagglund

G. van der Wiel — M. Delgado — J. Osorio — V. Vazquez — J. Morrow

J. Altidore — S. Giovinco

New England Revolution: A Closer Look

Record: 8-10-11, 35 pts, 43 GF, 45 GA, -2 GD

Standing: 8th in Eastern Conference (6 points below red line)

Current Form: D-D-W-D-L

Road Stats:

Record: 2-6-6, 12 points (0.9 points/match), -7 GD

GF: 18 (1.3 GF/match)

GA: 25 (1.8 GA/match)

With last weekend’s 2-2 draw vs Chicago, New England has now dropped points at home for the fifth consecutive match. They have not won at Gillette since late June (0-2-3). That’s three points earned out of a possible fifteen, or twelve points dropped. If six of those twelve were gained, the Revs would be in sixth place. If all twelve points were won, New England would be tied with Columbus in fourth place. Oh, what could have been!

The Revs’ lineup vs the Fire didn’t differ much from the one first-year manager Brad Friedel rolled out in Los Angeles. Teal Bunbury (hamstring) and Michael Mancienne (personal) both returned to the XI. A couple of defensive miscues paved the way for the Fire’s two goals, which kept the Revs from snatching all three desperately-needed points. Cristian Penilla scored his first goal in months — a second half equalizer — but it wasn’t enough.

New acquisition Guillermo Hauche made his Revolution debut, joining Juan Agudelo as a second-half substitute. The Revs switched to a 4-4-2 after the break in trying to break down the trenched-in Fire, and Friedel lauded the effort and energy both brought to the match. Antonio Delamea picked up a yellow card and will be suspended for this match due to accumulation.

Team Leaders (on the road):

Goals:

Penilla/Bunbury - 5

Fagundez/Zahibo - 2

Assists:

Fagundez - 4

Penilla/Agudelo - 2

Key Passes (per game):

Fagundez - 3.2

Penilla - 1.2

Bunbury/Caicedo - 0.7

Passing %:

Delamea - 87.1

Caldwell - 82.3

Mancienne - 78.6

Tackles (per game):

Caicedo - 2.9

Farrell - 2.2

Caldwell - 2.0

Clearances (per game):

Mancienne - 9.7

Delamea - 4.4

Anibaba - 3.9

Goalkeeping (overall):

Brad Knighton

Save % - 88.2

GA/gm - 1.0

Shutouts - 1

Primary Formation: 4-2-3-1

Projected XI:

B. Knighton

A. Farrell — J. Anibaba — M. Mancienne — B. Bye

L. Caicedo — S. Caldwell

K. Rowe — D. Fagundez — C. Penilla

T. Bunbury

Match Analysis

Contests at BMO Field have been high-scoring affairs, especially in recent weeks. The past five matches have seen a total of 26 goals, or over five per game. TFC has scored 15 of those 26, which is an average of three goals per match.

Toronto FC plays possession out of the back with short passes. The Revs were able to exploit this at Gillette in May and score two quick goals on turnovers from their high press. The TFC attack runs through the triumvirate of playmaker Osorio and forwards Altidore and Giovinco. However, they’re also adept at attacking down the wings, especially on the right through Eriq Zavaleta, Greg van der Wiel, and Marco Delgado. They can score on you with long shots and through balls and, when the Reds get in on goal, they’re excellent at finishing chances.

The Revolution should have plenty of opportunities to create their own chances against Toronto FC, as the home side is poor defensively, especially when it comes to stopping counter attacks and shots from distance. They do, however, defend set pieces well.

The game is never over, as Toronto FC has shown the ability to both come from behind and also allow opponents back into matches.

Match Facts

This is the 29th all-time regular season meeting between these Eastern Conference rivals and the final one this year. New England leads the series with a 13-6-9 record, including their 3-2 victory at Gillette back in May.

Toronto holds a slight 4-3-5 series advantage at home. In fact, the Revolution collected six straight results (three wins and three draws) from 2011-2015 before losing their last two matches in Toronto in 2016 and 2017. They’ve been outscored in these two most recent trips to BMO Field by a combined 6-1.

How to Watch

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 29, 2018
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto (Ontario), Canada
TV: NBC Sports Boston (Boston); TSN4 (Toronto)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (Boston); Sportsnet 590 The FAN (Toronto)
Streaming: MLS Live (now available on ESPN+)