FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution heads north of the border on Friday night looking to strengthen its postseason credentials in another critical meeting with Toronto FC at BMO Field.
Kickoff between the fifth-place Revs (10-9-6, 36 pts.) and ninth-place TFC (4-12-9, 21 pts.) is set for 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub will cover the game regionally.
Current Form: A third straight win would see Revs climb into tie for second in the East
Back-to-back home victories over the Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union have vaulted the Revs back into the Eastern Conference’s fifth and final playoff spot, while another three points on Friday night would lift the Revolution into a tie for second place entering Saturday and Sunday’s slate of games.
Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe have each registered three goals during the modest two-game winning streak, while Rowe was honored as the MLS player of the week for his performance in the 5-1 romp over the Union.
“I think what the last two games have proven is if we’re on top of our game, take care of our passing and come in with the right mentality, then we’re going to win the game,” said left back Chris Tierney. “So we’re going to Toronto with that attitude and we’re going to continue to try to build our confidence and keep getting better.”
Toronto FC returns to BMO Field after back-to-back road games in which the Reds picked up a single point. Federico Higuain scored twice to send TFC to a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew two weeks ago, but a second-half goal from Bobby Convey helped the Canadian side return home with a point following a 1-1 draw with D.C. United last weekend.
Past Meetings: Upon seventh visit, Revs still searching for first-ever win at BMO Field
Four draws have provided the Revs a small measure of success in six previous visits to BMO Field, but they’ll still be searching for their first-ever victory at Toronto’s home ground on Friday night. In fact, the Revs have just one win in 12 all-time matches on Canadian soil; a 1-0 triumph over the Montreal Impact in last year’s season finale.
These teams have already met twice this season at Gillette Stadium, each side claiming one shutout victory. Diego Fagundez and Agudelo scored for the Revs in a 2-0 win on May 25, while Matias Laba’s second-minute goal was the difference in Toronto’s 1-0 victory just four weeks ago on Aug. 4.
“Looking back at that game, we had some good stuff, but we dug ourselves a hole real early,” said rookie midfielder Scott Caldwell. “But we know we can play with them, we know we can create chances, so we just have to take the positives from that game, make sure we do those well again, and improve what we didn’t do so well on.”
Injury Report: Sene eligible to return after serving one-game suspension
Even without 2012 leading scorer Saer Sene, New England’s attack was clicking on all cylinders in Sunday night’s five-goal outburst against Philadelphia, Now the Revs can add the French forward back into the mix as he’s eligible to return after serving a one-game suspension.
Also potentially available is Juan Toja, who is listed as questionable after missing the last three games with lower back irritation, but Clyde Simms looks set to miss his fifth straight game as he continues to battle turf toe.
Laba won’t have the chance to repeat his recent goal-scoring heroics for Toronto FC as the Argentine midfielder is currently sidelined by a broken toe, while Danny Koevermans is questionable with a calf strain.
Final Thoughts: Rowe finding a rhythm, but work-rate is the key
“What I love that Kelyn brings every day is a competitiveness to work; a work-rate that I think is almost top of the league in just how hard he works for his teammates,” head coach Jay Heaps said of his second-year midfielder. “That, for me, is the most important thing, and he brings that.
“The other stuff comes with the rhythm he’s getting and the confidence. For me, he’s had an excellent season and he continues to get better. But when he finishes off games that way in the final third, we’re a much better team.”