Know Thy Enemy: Revolution At Toronto Eastern Coronation Edition
What better way to celebrate one of the best teams in the East than by handing Toronto their first home loss.
Today, Canada will celebrate the coronation of a new leader. Yes, the New England Revolution are in town to visit as the Eastern Conference leaders head to BMO Field tonight (730pm ET kickoff on AppleTV+ - MLS Season Pass).
As for that other event going on in England and the Commonwealth, fear not, I have already taken the precaution of making sure that there isn’t any tea inside the stadium. I don’t know the whereabouts of these guys however and I am kind of worried about them, hope they didn’t get lost…anyway.
The time has come for the Revs to truly set themselves apart in the East, and they will have to do so on the road with four of their five matches in May away from Gillette. Toronto, Miami, and Philadelphia might all be mid-to-bottom table teams but all of them are capable teams as is Atlanta who the Revs play at the end of the month.
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If New England is truly the Shield contenders the standings says they are now, they’re going to have to win the majority of these games. Toronto has gotten great play from Sean Johnson in goal with an improved backline as well and a debut goal from CJ Sapong last week after acquired via trade. Philly won’t have their CCL fixture congestion to deal with anymore after getting bounced by LAFC. We all know the house of horrors the Revs have to deal with at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta…and okay Miami might stink but they do show up every oncec in a while and play good soccer.
Completely lost on me until I read Charles Boehm’s excellent preview - we get a Bob Bradley vs Bruce Arena matchup of two of not just MLS’ greatest legends but two of the best American coaches in the business. The juggernaut that is LAFC right now? Bob Bradley built that and handed it off to Steve Cherundolo who continues to do amazing things with that club.
But TFC right now is a work in progress and it’s up to New England to take advantage as best they can. Dylan Borrero is done for the year now so expect to see the Revs in a lot more diamond midfield formations especially to start games.
As for Toronto, we are joined this week by our good friend Tomas Karageorgos of Waking the Red. Tomas will be spearheading WTR’s game coverage tonight so head on over to their site for their side of the coverage.
TBM: Toronto is unbeaten at home so far, and while they are winless on the road, why have they been so effective at BMO Field? What does TFC need to do to start turning all their draws into wins?
TK: The Reds lead the league in most drawn matches this season thus far, that’s no secret. They have been so effective at BMO Field because of the passionate fanbase that supports them week in week out, the stadium has been a fortress for many years and the team always puts in maximum effort to not let their opponents leave Toronto with all three points.
TFC needs to have a stronger killing instinct on the attack in order to convincingly win matches. There has not been much of an attacking presence in the squad so far, besides Federico Bernardeschi having to do a lot of the heavy lifting when the squad pushes forward. They have dropped numerous points from winning positions in the opening 10 matches, and that’s not a statistic you want to be proud of. If they can score a lot more, they should slowly move their way up the Eastern Conference standings.
TBM: Through 10 games TFC has scored 13 goals and allowed 13 goals, which side of the ball needs to improve more to get Toronto higher in the East Standings?
TK: Toronto FC’s defensive performances have been commendable up to this point, as the back line was the focus of re-tooling during this offseason. Sean Johnson, Matt Hedges, and Sigurd Rosted have seamlessly fitted into the squad and know their respective roles, and have impressed the TFC faithful with their efforts. Sean Johnson already has four clean sheets to his name as a Red, one more than the three total that the team recorded last season.
The improvement needs to happen on the offensive side of things. Before last week’s match against NYCFC, only one striker has scored – Deandre Kerr, who isn’t even too familiar with leading the line for TFC. Goals win games, and Toronto has to score a lot more on a weekly basis if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs this year.
TBM: C.J. Sapong scored on his debut for TFC after a deadline deal trade with Nashville, did the team play any differently with him up top than in the first nine games?
TK: Watching C.J. Sapong was a breath of fresh air, playing with an experienced, true No. 9 up top made the attack flow very nicely. Sapong knows how to hold up play for his teammates, pressure the ball, and knows when and where to make the right runs.
The team didn’t rely on the two Italian wingers to carry the offensive duties last Saturday, they trusted Sapong with the ball at his feet and knew his strengths (aerial presence and receiving some all sorts of passes) which they executed well.
At 34 years of age, Sapong may not be the long-term solution at the striker position, but he definitely can contribute in an impactful way this season by scoring goals.
Lineup: Johnson; Petretta, Rosted, Hedges, Laryea; Kaye, Coello, Servania; Insigne, Sapong, Bernardeschi
Injuries: Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez