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Know Thy Enemy: Serie B Revolution vs Toronto FC All-Italian Food Edition

Apparently MLS teams are only allowed to sign former Italian national teamers or players from Serie A U23 sides, or at least those are the rules New England and Toronto are using and it’s made us hungry.

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle Shawn Dowd / USA TODAY NETWORK

Okay, I mailed in a preview before vacation and somehow I’ve returned from a lovely trip up to Vermont to preview a Serie B game. How else do we explain the signings of over 100 Italy national team caps to Toronto FC and a Juventus U23 player to the New England Revolution. Clearly these are teams not pushing towards the MLS Playoffs, but promotion into Serie A.

We’ll get to the recent/current fortunes of TFC and the Revs respectively, but it is pretty neat that MLS teams have enough pull to get two current and one former Italian national teamers and also a player from the Juventus system. We’ve already seen the potential TFC has in a 4-0 pantsing of Charlotte a week ago in which former Roma midfielder Michael Bradley looked 24 years old scoring a first half brace. Toronto went from stale buffet baked ziti to penne ala vodka nearly overnight.

Disastrous World Cup campaign aside for Italy, again, wingers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi are both worthy Designated Players and featured regularly for the Azzurri in 2021 and veteran defender Domencio Criscito on a TAM deal (who last featured for Italy in 2018) does a lot of rebuilding for a struggling TFC side in one go. Add in the trade of Mark Anthony-Kaye from LAFC, where Bob Bradley coached him, and this is a new look Reds side that can absolutely push for the playoffs for a side that is only six points away despite being in 13th place.

Today might mark the starting debut of new Revs DP striker Giacomo Vrioni, signed from Juventus after a successful loan spell in Austria with Tirol. Vrioni made his Revs debut last week off the bench, logging 23 minutes in a game that was largely devoid of scoring chances and the Revs only attempted 5 shots in total. What the Revs need is some homemade spaghetti and meatballs...simple, consistent, and always hits the spot especially at home.

With the sale of Adam Buksa to Lens, Jozy Altidore’s loan to Puebla, and Edward Kizza’s loans to the USL there’s not a lot of depth for Bruce Arena to lean on up top. It’s Vrioni, Gustavo Bou, Justin Rennicks, and that’s about it as far as true strikers go. While the Revs don’t want to put a ton of pressure on Vrioni this season, their playoff fate could depend on how quickly he acclimates to New England and finds the form that saw him lead the Austrian Bundesliga in scoring last season for Tirol. The Revs have a game in hand on Cincy, Charlotte, and Chicago who are above them in the standings and are just two points behind that trio for 7th place. A few spicy fra diavolo goals from Gustavo Bou wouldn’t hurt either.

Toronto already has a logical landing place in Serie A in Turin with we need one for the Revs. Connecticut me is biased but I recommend and landing on Syracuse to spread Big East conference dominance to US Siracusa. Wait, wrong sport...

So today will answer an important question for both the Revs and TFC - are these two teams destined for a comeback in 2022 or is the hole already dug too deep? Three points for either side would go a long way towards building up towards the playoffs, probably moreso for Toronto grabbing a road win and climbing within a point of the Revs in the standings.

However the most important question of the day in celebration of today’s Serie B game is: What’s your favorite Italian dish and/or your favorite place to get said dish? Drop a comment below or reach out on Twitter so we can check out the responses after the #NERevsMediaGame tomorrow. We will also accept your favorite players as pasta dishes.

The correct answer is as always apizza from everywhere in New Haven, CT but we’re going to disallow all pizza answers so therefore I will stan Mario The Baker’s in Bridgeport, CT as my go-to pasta spot.

We asked this question, and others, to Waking the Red’s Adam Palermo who I assume is related to someone over at Serie B side Palermo FC. Special thanks to WTR’s site manager Anthony Khoury for his assistance this week and as always you can check out my answers to their questions over on their site.

TBM: Important things first, favorite Italian/pasta dish and/or the best place to get in the Greater Toronto Area?

AP: What a question. I’d have to go with my dad’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs or arancini!

TBM: Really strange push from Toronto lately trying to get promoted into Serie A, talk about the additions they’ve made recently.

AP: The Insigne signing is the biggest of the bunch. After TFC President Bill Manning got that one over the line it seems like he realized, “hey, Italians might want to play here.” Signing Criscito was a wise move considering the club’s lack of natural fullbacks. Bernardeschi was the most recent acquisition, he adds quality to the right wing and allows for Bradley to play his favoured 4-3-3.

2. Michael Bradley clearly misses Roma, that might have been his best game in a while against Charlotte, what did you see from him that clicked really well in that game?

2. It was great to see him get forward and get on the scoresheet. Playing in a three-man midfield rather than a double pivot will be huge for both the team, and his individual play. Mark Anthony Kaye’s presence will give the team better balance, and can allow Bradley to have a bit more freedom and play to his strengths.

3. Toronto is in 12th in the East, just lost the Canadian Champ Final to Vancouver, but is it possible they can salvage the second half and get a playoff berth this year? What’s the biggest issue that needs to be fixed for that big of a turnaround.

AP: Looking at the table I honestly do think it’s possible. Toronto is 6 points off Cincinnati in 7th with a dozen games to go. The loss in Vancouver was a little bit of a reality check after the big win against Charlotte, but I still believe that the new Italians plus Mark Anthony Kaye will add much needed quality and experience. The biggest issue that needs fixing is the defensive mistakes, we saw that in the Can Champ final.