FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – “We just need to win.”
That’s more or less the mindset for the New England Revolution as they head north of the border for Saturday night’s meeting with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC at BMO Field.
With five games remaining on the regular-season schedule the Revs (8-10-11, 35 pts.) enter the weekend five points back of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference, while TFC (8-15-6, 30 pts.) are 10 points behind the line and could find themselves officially eliminated from postseason contention with a loss on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports Boston mobile app. Radio listeners can catch the call in English on 98.5 The Sports Hub and in Portuguese on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston, while Matt McCarthy and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs aim to close out unbeaten September; TFC cling to playoff hopes
Twice the Revolution came from behind in last weekend’s back-and-forth 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire, stretching their unbeaten run to four games (1-0-3) in the process.
The end result was another disappointing home draw, however, as a pair of untimely defensive errors were punished to leave the Revs once again feeling like they weren’t able to turn a positive performance into the three points that would’ve solidified their playoff aspirations.
But those playoff aspirations are still very much at the front of their minds.
“I think we’re on a positive note right now,” said Teal Bunbury. “We’re getting some good results – granted, we wanted three points at home – but I believe we’re trending in the right way.
“With five games remaining, it’s going to be tough – it’s not going to be easy – but this is what we train all year for, have a preseason for, and want to play for.”
Toronto FC briefly had themselves back in the Eastern Conference playoff mix with a 3-1-2 run through July and August, but three losses in their last four games have tempered their postseason hopes, and a loss on Saturday combined with a Montreal Impact win would see those hopes officially ended.
Greg Vanney’s side have been nothing if not exciting in recent weeks, as a total of 34 goals have been scored in their last six home games in all competitions. All told, TFC have the league’s seventh-best attack (50 goals scored) and fourth-worst defense (57 goals against).
“It’s going to be a tough task. They’ve got a lot of good players,” said Andrew Farrell, singling out Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. “We’ve matched up with them well in the past, so we’re looking forward to watching their tape from the earlier game and hopefully come out with three points.”
Past Meetings: Fast start helped Revs to 3-2 win over TFC back in May
The quickest brace in Revolution history from Cristian Penilla gave New England a 2-0 lead over TFC inside seven minutes when these sides met on May 12 at Gillette Stadium, and an additional strike from Bunbury made it 3-0 before the Revs held on for a 3-2 victory.
The Revs will be hoping for a similar start on Saturday night at BMO Field, where they’ve fallen on their last two trips after going 3-0-3 at the venue between 2011 and 2015.
Overall the Revs are 8-2-2 in their last 12 meetings with Toronto FC.
Injury Report: Hauché makes MLS debut; Delamea suspended for trip to Toronto
Officially added to the roster last Friday, newcomer Guillermo Hauché made his debut with a 45-minute appearance off the bench in the 2-2 draw with Chicago, earning praise from Friedel and his teammates. Now he’ll hope to play an even bigger role through the final five games.
One player who won’t play a role on Saturday night is Antonio Delamea. The center back will serve a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation, and it’s likely that Jalil Anibaba will step in to replace him alongside Michael Mancienne.
Mancienne has partnered Anibaba in three of his five starts with the Revolution.
“Toni is out, which is a miss. I thought Toni played very well on the weekend,” said Friedel. “But Jalil is ready to go. Jalil has been excellent all season for us, and he’ll play alongside Michael, so there’s no issue there.”
Final Thoughts: “We’re going to be fighting until the end”
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be clean – we just need to win,” Friedel said of what types of performances the Revs need in the final five games. “Sometimes you get results where you don’t play the best, and sometimes you don’t get results when you deserve it, like the (LA) Galaxy game, for instance.
“We’re going to be fighting until the end and there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t win out the rest of the season. But we have to take it one game at a time, and the next one is Toronto.”