TORONTO – The New England Revolution plays its only road game in the month of June this weekend when the club heads north of the border for a Saturday evening meeting with Toronto FC.
Kickoff from BMO Field between the Revs (5-7-2, 17 pts.) and TFC (1-10-1, 4 pts.) is set for 5:30 p.m. The game will be televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will carry the radio call.
Current Form: Revs building on back-to-back shutouts; TFC transitioning under Mariner
Last weekend the Revs were thwarted by Columbus Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum – who made a trio of key first-half saves – as they returned from the international break with a 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium. It was the Revolution’s second consecutive defensive shutout after keeping just one clean sheet through the first 12 games of the season, but head coach Jay Heaps wants to see his side tighten up its passing Saturday in Toronto.
“Our passing was a little bit loose,” said Heaps. “We didn’t complete enough passes, we didn’t play our game and I give credit to Columbus for clogging up areas where we were comfortable. But as the game went on I thought that we had more chances to win and that’s the most important thing.”
Paul Mariner will make his home debut as head coach of Toronto FC this weekend after the former Revolution assistant moved from the front office to the sidelines on June 7. Mariner began his TFC coaching career with a pair of road games, suffering a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend before seeing a 3-1 halftime lead slip away in a 3-3 draw with the Houston Dynamo this past Wednesday night.
Past Meetings: No luck for Revs in five previous trips to BMO Field
Toronto has been a luckless city for the Revolution as the club is winless (0-2-3) in five visits to BMO Field, making it one of just two MLS venues – along with the Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – which the Revs have visited at least five times without a victory.
The second half has been particularly unkind to the Revs at BMO Field, as they’ve conceded the game-winning or game-tying goal after the halftime break on all five occasions. Last year the Revs carried a 2-1 lead into the closing stages only for Danny Koevermans to register an 83rd-minute equalizer.
Injury Report: Joseph and Moreno both out for New England; Simms returns to action
The Revs will be without their captain in Toronto as Shalrie Joseph (R adductor strain) will be sidelined by the injury he suffered in last weekend’s draw with Columbus. Joseph remained in New England along with forward Jose Moreno, who was removed at halftime of last weekend’s game with a sprained left ankle.
Luckily for the Revolution, Joseph’s spot in central midfield could be filled by the returning Clyde Simms, now healthy after missing four games with left ankle tendonitis. Simms played 24 minutes with the reserves last Sunday and worked his way back into full training in recent days.
“Clyde’s been missed the last few weeks,” said Heaps. “He’s a presence; a calming presence. Not so much a ‘Ra Ra Go Get ‘Em’ kind of guy, because he plays more subtly than that. But kind of that calm demeanor, putting out fires on the field, was missed.”
The midweek injury report listed four players as “out” for Toronto FC, including goalkeeper Stefan Frei (L lower leg) and defenders Ty Harden (R adductor strain) and Adrian Cann (R knee sprain).
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms
Simms’ return to the lineup would’ve benefited the Revolution regardless, but with Joseph injured the 29-year-old’s presence takes on added importance on Saturday. It’s likely Simms will fill the vacancy left by Joseph in midfield and if the former D.C. United stalwart returns to the form he displayed early in the season, there’s unlikely to be a drop in quality.
“His soccer intelligence is great,” goalkeeper Matt Reis said of Simms. “With our outside backs going, he can fill in those gaps when Chris (Tierney) and Kevin (Alston) go. He’s also a good facilitator of the ball from the defense into the offense. He’s someone that does a great job of covering and someone that you’ve seen earlier on in the season, how important he is for us.”
Final Thoughts: Feilhaber sees similarities between 2011 Revs and 2012 TFC
“Teams on the ropes are always dangerous,” said Benny Feilhaber. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re playing well or not, they’re going to come out and fight for everything. We’ve got to be prepared for it. They have some similarities that we had last year. We were struggling to get results last year, but I think we made it really tough for every team even though we didn’t get many results. They’re capable of getting a good game, especially at home, so we’ve got to be wary of that.”