FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the second straight weekend an Eastern Conference opponent will drop by Gillette Stadium when Toronto FC pay a visit to the New England Revolution on Saturday afternoon.
Kickoff between the Revs (1-1-3, 6 pts.) and TFC (1-2-1, 4 pts.) is set for 4 p.m., with local coverage available on CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub in English, and WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA in Portuguese.
Following the game join host Rob “Hardy” Poole and analyst John Murphy on 98.5 The Sports Hub for the live call-in postgame show.
Current Form: Following first win, Revs look to “move forward in a positive way”
Diego Fagundez’s second goal of the season and Bobby Shuttleworth’s second shutout of the campaign were enough to lift the Revs to their first win of 2016 last Friday, 1-0 over the New York Red Bulls.
It was nothing less than the Revs deserved after feeling hard done by some of their early-season results.
“We thought we’d been playing better than maybe the points had shown so far, so we were feeling the pressure a little bit to get that first win, especially at home,” Chris Tierney admitted. “Definitely a little bit of a relief and we feel like we can move forward from here in a positive way.”
The key now for the Revs is to build upon that first victory, particularly at home this weekend before heading back on the road for a pair of upcoming trips to Orlando and D.C.
“Any time you get two games in a row at home, it’s a great opportunity to build momentum,” said Tierney. “We always expect to win at home and we expect to take six points out of these two games. It’s a great opportunity to do that, so we’re excited to play again here at home in front of our fans.”
Toronto FC has yet to play in front of their home fans as they continue an eight-game road swing to start the season while a second round of renovations are completed on BMO Field.
Greg Vanney’s side opened with four points from the first two games before suffering a pair of consecutive shutout losses, but Jay Heaps is more focused on how TFC has performed in those matches, and he knows the Revs have a big task ahead of them on Saturday afternoon.
“TFC’s an excellent team. They’re on the road, so they have this road mentality,” Heaps said. “They’ve been in every game … They’ve fought. So you realize that they’re a team with a really good mentality.”
Past Meetings: Revs hoping to continue recent run of success against Toronto
New England has taken at least one point from 18 of 22 meetings (10-4-8) with Toronto FC since the Canadian side joined MLS in 2007, with much of that success coming in recent years.
The Revs are 5-0-2 in their last seven meetings with TFC, including a sweep of the three-game series in 2014 and a 2-0-1 mark in a trio of meetings last season. Overall the Revs are 7-2-3 at home against Toronto.
Perhaps most impressive was the Revolution’s ability to limit Sebastian Giovinco’s contributions last year; the runaway league MVP managed just one assist and didn’t register a goal in three appearances.
Injury Report: New England close to full strength with Koffie, Watson back in the mix
Offseason additions Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson will both be available for selection on Saturday afternoon after the pair was suspended for last weekend’s win over the Red Bulls. Both were fixtures in the lineup to start the campaign before red cards and international duty (for Watson) intervened.
The question now is whether the duo slots straight back into the lineup after London Woodberry (right back) and Kelyn Rowe (central midfield) put together strong showings in their stead.
The only name on the Revolution’s injury report is Darrius Barnes – the versatile defender is listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain.
TFC also have one question mark ahead of Saturday as rookie forward Tsubasa Endoh, who started the first three games of the season, is questionable with a quad injury. If Endoh is sidelined, he’ll join midfielder Benoit Cheyrou, who’ll serve a one-game suspension after being sent off last weekend in Colorado.
Final Thoughts: Fifth straight in-conference game another opportunity for hungry Revs
“When you play in your conference, it’s a six-point swing,” said Teal Bunbury. “It’s huge for us to get these wins and to make sure that we’re beating Eastern Conference teams. I think we’re the best team in the Eastern Conference, so we have to go out there and prove it each game.”