FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution heads north of the border this weekend for its only road trip in a six-game span, visiting Toronto FC on Saturday evening.
This one sets up as a classic six-point showdown as the sixth-place Revs (9-12-3, 30 pts.) and third-place TFC (9-8-6, 33 pts.) are separated by a mere three points in the Eastern Conference standings. While the Revs have 10 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, Toronto holds a game in hand.
Kickoff from BMO Field is set for 5 p.m. ET, with coverage on Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Recent turnaround has kept Revs in the thick of the playoff race
New England has stemmed the bleeding from its mid-summer swoon, going 2-1-1 in the last four games to maintain its position on the brink of the playoff places in the East. The Revs enter the weekend one point back of the New York Red Bulls for the precious fifth and final postseason berth.
Last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA was encouraging in how it unfolded – halftime adjustments led directly to Lee Nguyen’s team-leading ninth goal of the season and Bobby Shuttleworth led a stout defensive performance as the Revolution grinded out a critical three points.
“We’ve got to grind out results,” said defender Andrew Farrell. “It’s not always going to be pretty. We’re not going to win every game 5-0. But just getting points where we can and getting wins is huge at this stage of the season.”
Toronto FC is coming off a frustrating home result in which the Reds conceded a 90th-minute equalizer and settled for a 2-2 draw with the visiting Chicago Fire. The result kept TFC winless in its last three home games (0-1-2) and marked the third straight game in which the club conceded multiple goals.
Past Meetings: Nguyen’s late penalty earned Revs first-ever win in Toronto earlier this season
Patrick Mullins scored his first MLS goal and Nguyen converted an 82nd-minute penalty kick to lift the Revolution to a come-from-behind win at BMO Field back on May 3. It was an historical victory for the Revs, who had previously been winless (0-2-5) in seven trips to Toronto.
But that’s not to say that the Revs hadn’t found a measure of success in Toronto prior to their victory in May. Three straight draws preceded that triumph, making the Revs unbeaten in their last four visits to TFC. Their last loss at BMO Field was back in 2010 when Chad Barrett scored to sink his future – and now former – club.
Injury Report: Jones travels to Toronto as he builds fitness; TFC enters weekend shorthanded
Andy Dorman and Chris Tierney continue to make progress in their quest to return from knee injuries, but the duo will be sidelined once again for this weekend’s trip to Toronto. They’re joined on the injury report by Shalrie Joseph, who suffered a right quad strain just weeks after overcoming a nagging calf injury.
Marquee signing Jermaine Jones is healthy and available – his International Transfer Certificate arriving earlier this week – and traveled to Toronto with his teammates, but it's unknown whether he'll feature in this weekend’s game.
Jones has trained with the Revs just four times after returning from an extended vacation following the World Cup and admits to being short of full fitness, but the 32-year-old U.S. National Team star was included in the travel party to Toronto, if only to provide a sense of leadership.
“I will do everything I can to help this team,” Jones said. “I don’t know, maybe I don’t start from the beginning; maybe I’m on the bench. But I’m a guy who is always around the team. We have a young team and I think only my presence there, maybe I can push the team and we can get some points there.”
The Revs will visit a shorthanded Toronto FC side missing five players because of injury. Top scorer Jermain Defoe (adductor), captain Steven Caldwell (quad) and starting left back Justin Morrow (hamstring) are all sidelined by various ailments, as are Warren Creavalle (hamstring) and Andrew Wiedeman (back).
Final Thoughts: Keeping the proper mindset critical as Revs make their return to the road
“Road games are always difficult in MLS, but at the same time, we have to go in there with the right mindset,” said Heaps. “We’re getting down to the point in the season where every point is crucial, so we have to make sure that we go with the right mindset looking to maximize points. Throughout the game you’ll feel where it’s going, but the mindset is going there to give them a good challenge.”