FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will head north of the border in search of their first win of the 2019 campaign this weekend, when they’ll visit Toronto FC at BMO Field.
Kickoff between the Revs (0-1-1, 1 pt.) and TFC (1-0-0, 3 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night, with coverage in English on NBC Sports Boston and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The action will also be streaming live on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports Boston mobile app for authenticated subscribers.
Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will have the English call and will also handle postgame duties on Revolution Postgame Live, which will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston. Rob “Hardy” Poole and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Friedel calls for “more urgency” in attack after frustrating home opener
Last weekend the Revolution had their 12-year unbeaten run in home openers (7-0-5) snapped in a 2-0 loss to Columbus Crew SC, as Gyasi Zardes scored either side of halftime and Zack Steffen stopped a Diego Fagundez penalty kick to frustrate the hosts.
The performance left head coach Brad Friedel calling for urgency and aggressiveness, particularly in the attack, as he felt the Revs were “passive” throughout much of the first half, something they can’t afford to be on Sunday night at BMO Field.
“Going forward, we have to have a lot more urgency getting in the other half a lot quicker in the transition, and then decide whether we want to go to goal or keep the ball from there,” Friedel said. “We have good enough players to do that.”
While the Revs will need to be more clinical in the final third on Sunday night, they’ve been satisfied with their defensive efforts through the first two weeks, having limited opponents to just 15 shots, tied with the Chicago Fire for fewest in the league amongst teams who’ve played two matches.
“[We’re] still jelling, getting Edgar (Castillo) involved and Brandon (Bye) involved,” said Andrew Farrell, forced to watch the first two games while recovering from a ruptured retina in his left eye. “Every game is going to get a little bit better, and I think the team can move forward from this. It’s a big test against Toronto, but I think the guys are ready.”
That test will be presented by a TFC side that has seen mixed results through the season’s early going. Greg Vanney’s group was eliminated from the Concacaf Champions League in the Round of 16, falling to Panama’s Club Atletico Independiente, 5-1 on aggregate, but responded with a comprehensive 3-1 road win over the Philadelphia Union on the opening weekend of the regular season.
While TFC sat a bit deeper at Talen Energy Stadium, content to hit on the counter, Friedel expects the Reds to be a bit more adventurous going forward in their home opener, particularly as they’re well rested coming off a bye.
“At home probably assuming they’re going to be a little bit more expansive, which they normally are,” Friedel said. “If they do sit back, we’ll have a plan for that. If they do send more bodies forward, then we’ll have a plan for that.
“One thing that’s going to stay constant is, again, they have a certain philosophy and a structure on how they’re going to try to play, and it’s important that we try to not only defend against that, but get a lot more bodies forward in the attack ourselves.”
Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup champions in 2017, TFC are looking to bounce back from a playoff-less 2018, but they’ll need to do so with a new-look side as influential figures like Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez have been replaced by new faces like Alejandro Pozuelo (joining next week) and Terrence Boyd.
Past Meetings: Home-field advantage has been pivotal in recent series history
New England will need to overcome recent series history to secure a result on Sunday night, as the home side has won the past six meetings between the Revs and TFC dating back to 2016. That includes three wins for the Revs at Gillette Stadium, and three wins for Toronto at BMO Field.
The Revs don’t need to go too far back to find success north of the border, however, as they did go 3-0-3 during a six-game stretch at BMO Field from 2011 to 2015.
Injury Report: Farrell recovering from ruptured retina; both Caicedos making progress
More details emerged about Andrew Farrell’s eye injury this week, as it was revealed that the veteran defender ruptured his retina in a freak training ground incident. While the 26-year-old right back has resumed fitness activities, he remains unable to participate in contact drills until cleared by doctors.
Luis Caicedo, meanwhile, has been limited to just a single, one-minute substitute appearance through the first two weeks as he works towards 90-minutes fitness, but the Colombian midfielder is “close,” according to Friedel. Same goes for Colombian forward Juan Fernando Caicedo, still waiting to make his MLS debut as he recovers from a muscular injury suffered late in preseason.
Zachary Herivaux and Brian Wright will also be unavailable for the immediate future after the duo was loaned to Birmingham Legion FC (USL) on Thursday, although the Revs do have the ability to recall either player at any point during the loan spell.
Final Thoughts: Revs “all locked in” as they set sights on three points in Toronto
“It’s disappointing, the home opener in front of our fans, kind of letting them down,” said Teal Bunbury. “We can say that it’s a long season and we still have many games, but we have to start correcting some of those things that were kind of lingering from last year.
“This week in training we’re all locked in, we understand the game plan, we’re motivated, and we’re keeping our spirits up knowing that we’re going on the road now to face a Toronto team that’s really talented, but we’re fully capable of getting three points there.”