MLS is Back: Orlando Tournament

A closer look at New England’s opponents in Group C of the MLS is Back tourney

Andrew Farrell vs. Montreal Impact (2019, Colonial)

Wednesday morning brought news that Major League Soccer was officially returning with the MLS is Back Tournament from July 8 – August 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Thursday afternoon brought details on the New England Revolution’s opponents.

A live draw placed the Revs in Group C of the competition alongside Toronto FC, D.C. United, and the Montreal Impact. Dates and kickoff times for those matches will be unveiled soon, but we now know that the Revs’ three group-stage matches in Orlando – the three matches that will count towards the regular-season standings – will be against TFC, D.C., and Montreal.

The top two finishers in Group C will advance to the tournament’s Round of 16, while the four best third-place finishers league-wide will also book a place in the knockout rounds.

Here’s a deeper look at the Revolution’s three opponents in Orlando.

TORONTO FC (1-0-1, 4 pts.)

Toronto carry the banner as defending Eastern Conference champions, having toppled both 1st-place New York City FC and 2nd-place Atlanta United in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs en route to a berth in the MLS Cup final, where they fell to Seattle Sounders FC.

MLS Cup champions in 2017, TFC went 1-0-1 prior to MLS suspending play in early March, earning a road draw in San Jose and a home win over NYCFC.

The Revs have a winning record all-time against TFC, but it’s been largely dependent on home-field advantage. While the Revs are 3-0-1 in their last four meetings with Toronto at Gillette Stadium, they’re 0-4-0 in their last four trips north of the border, so their meeting on neutral ground in Orlando is intriguing.

In their most recent meeting last August the Revs got a late goal from Gustavo Bou to rescue a 1-1 draw.

MONTREAL IMPACT (1-0-1, 4 pts.)

Montreal are the only Group C team to miss out on the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, having dipped below the line late in the season after winning just three of their final 15 games. That necessitated a coaching change as the Impact brought in Thierry Henry to lead the charge.

Henry’s first league game at the helm was against the Revs in the season opener on February 29, when Wilfried Zahibo had what appeared to be a late, go-ahead goal chalked off before Maxi Urruti scored to give the Impact a 2-1 win at Olympic Stadium.

Montreal followed up their season-opening win over the Revs with a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas – moving them to 1-0-1 – although they did see a 2-0 lead slip away in the final 10 minutes of that match.

While the Revs haven’t fared well against the Impact in recent years – going 1-3-1 in the last five matchups – that followed a stretch in which New England won five straight meetings between 2016 and 2018.

D.C. UNITED (1-1-0, 3 pts.)

Led by the second-longest tenured head coach in MLS – Ben Olsen, now in his 11th season with the club – D.C. United was a playoff team in 2019, finishing level on points with Toronto FC but missing out on a home game because of the goals scored tiebreaker. That proved important as D.C. was eliminated in the first round by TFC, who scored four goals in extra time en route to a 5-1 win.

D.C. started the 2020 season with a heartbreaking home loss to the Colorado Rapids, but followed it up with a 2-1 win over expansion side Inter Miami CF with goals from Yamil Asad and Frederic Brillant.

A pair of original MLS clubs, New England and D.C. have a long, storied history, but that history has favored D.C. in recent years as the Revs have won just one of the last 11 games in the series.

Their most recent meeting came last July when the Revs raced out to a 2-0 lead at Audi Field thanks to goals from Carles Gil and Teal Bunbury, but ultimately conceded a pair of goals en route to a 2-2 draw. It was New England’s last game before the debut of Gustavo Bou just five days later.