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Know Your Enemy: New England Revolution - Meeting the Second (Part Two)

TFC will be hoping for lots of this face from the Revs top scorer.
TFC will be hoping for lots of this face from the Revs top scorer.

Find part one of the preview here before sinking your teeth into the rest.

Last Meeting

When the two met back on June 23rd all the talk revolved around new TFC boss, Paul Mariner, facing his former employers for the first time.

Fresh off a dramatic, if disappointing, 3-3 draw in Houston midweek, Toronto began brightly.

A raking cross-field ball from Richard Eckersley picked out Ashtone Morgan wide on the left. Nearly on the touch-line, Morgan wiggled for a yard of space, sending a curling left-footed delivery past Alston to the centre of the box at the edge of the six. Danny Koevermans beat Soares to the ball, heading it down and back against the grain, almost under a flapping Reis, to open the scoring in the fourth minute.

Alston was lucky to stay on the pitch; having picked up a yellow card for blocking off the run of Morgan with a body-check, a nasty lunge on Julian de Guzman saw him plant his studs into the calf of the now FC Dallas midfielder, an action that went unpunished; Alston was shortly thereafter replaced by Lechner.

Toronto then doubled their advantage before the first half closed, a quick transition saw Koevermans hold up the ball above the centre-circle, lay it back to Ryan Johnson, then continue his run. Having delayed, forcing Koevermans to stray offside, Johnson fed the ball into the path of Morgan streaking down the left. Approaching the flag, Morgan whipped his service through the goalmouth. Koevermans could not get a piece of it at the near-post, but a diving Johnson, following up nearer the far-post, was able to read the bounce and beat a clearing boot from Tierney to prod in the second goal of the afternoon.

The Revolution had their chances in the first frame - Fagundez threaded a pass through the wickets of Doneil Henry, sending Sene in on Milos Kocic, but the keeper read it well and a heavy touch allowed him to collect at the striker’s feet; Alston squared a ball across the top of the box from the right to Fagundez, who took a touch past Henry, and sent a blast to the near-post, which Kocic was forced to touch onto the bar; in stoppage time a left-side Feilhaber corner kick to the near-post was flicked on by McCarthy and bound for the goal, until a flying Kocic palmed the effort away to safety – and gradually looked the more likely to score.

Eric Avila and Torsten Frings left the field for Toronto; New England brought on Brettschneider, who shortly after converted the rebound from a long-range Feilhaber shot to draw his side within one.

A low drive from some twenty-plus yards skittered towards the left-post, Kocic could only push it away weakly and Brettschneider was quickest to pounce on the loose ball, tucking it in past a prone keeper.

Then the pressure began in earnest: a Tierney free-kick was pushed for a corner by Kocic; the ensuing restart was poked goal-ward at the near-post, trickled across the line, before it was cleared by Logan Emory; Nguyen played a one-two with Feilhaber to work in down the right, his low shot was kicked away by the keeper; Sene down the left made a yard of space on Eckersley, but his out-side of the boot effort sliced wide of the target; etc. etc.

Having also removed de Guzman from the fray with ten minutes remaining the inexperienced, exhausted defense crumbled, eventually succumbing to a ninety-fourth minute equalizer from Tierney.

Lechner, not pressured on the right, sent a cross to the centre of the box below the spot. Tierney's downward header nicked off the inside of the left-knee of Eckersley, redirecting it towards the far-post, where it eluded the scrambling Kocic to tie the match, 2-2.

Bullet Points

The goalkeeping question is without doubt the most important selection headache this weekend. Reis is the respected veteran, but – as evidenced repeatedly – he is undersized and reckless at leaving his line, too frequently coming for crosses for which he has no business straying.

While a keeper who commands his box is ideal, one who wanders is a liability, leaving an unguarded net for a simple header to enter. Johnson's second goal for Seattle is a perfect example of a keeper having no chance, but coming anyways.

New England's defence, despite the number of matches as a unit, struggles at time to track the runs of an attacker. This is a weakness that Toronto must seek to exploit as they did in the first meeting. Watch how easily Seattle's Johnson peels off his marker Tierney, who fails to bother tracking him, for his first goal.

The front three in the midfield are very attack-minded. Sene in particular physically links the midfield to the forwards, while the others tend to use ball movement to stay in touch.

From his position in the midfield, Sene surges forward, tucking in-field in support of the lone forward. As mentioned in the first preview, he is extremely left-footed, but his pace is a real danger, especially in transition.

Toronto will have to be aware of midfielders hanging out around the top of the box, waiting to pounce on a loose ball for a shot from distance. Feilhaber's rebound led to the first New England goal against Toronto, he later struck the post after collecting the ball just outside the box and making space for a shot.

Above all else, in order to have any success, Toronto will have to outwork Heaps' Revolution. Much like their manager was in his day, they are a group that will not give up. If there is a loose ball on any part of the pitch, they will battle for it.

TFC must compete, if they hope to compete.

Toronto has never won in New England, having lost four and drawn two.

Zack Schilawski scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing in 2010, while three goals from Andy Dorman, a brace from Taylor Twellman, and singles from Pat Noonan and Shalrie Joseph saw the Revs outscore TFC 7-0 in 2007.

Happily – relatively speaking – Toronto did manage a dour 0-0 draw last season in front of four men and a dog, as the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks played out Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Saturday night is Shalrie Joseph Bobble-Head night.

New England Revolution Eastern Conference 6th Place

Points 22 Games 17 Wins 6, Losses 7, Draws 4

Goals For 24 Against 22 Differential +2

Home 5-1-3 Away 1-6-1

Last Five W-T-T-T-W