Toronto FC faces a New England Revolution team who haven't quite sorted themselves out tonight at BMO Field. The Revolution, have, at best, been a playoff bubble team this year, and have failed to string together consistent results.
For more insight on a team that has been a bit of an enigma this season in the Eastern Conference playoff race, Waking The Red caught up with the Bent Musket, SB Nation's New England Revolution website. Here is what they had to say about their season, and today's match:
1. Very up and down season for the Revs, why haven't they been able to find consistency?
Consistency has definitely been the buzzword around the Revs all season long, as they'll rattle off a string of positive results and then spiral out of control for several weeks. In practice, New England's summer is typically marred by a losing streak, while the fall and spring usually means a winning streak is around the corner. It's vexing for fans and media alike, and it's honestly anyone's guess as to which version of the red, white and blue will show up come the weekend.
As you alluded to, the eternal question is thus: Why are the Revs so hot and cold? The answer, in my opinion, is the team's mental approach. They'll put together an electric first half, only to look like an entirely different side coming out of the locker room. Similarly, as was the case in March and April, the Revs will hold a lead late and then surrender an equaliser as the final minutes dwindle away.
To get three points against TFC, the Revs will need to put together a complete 90-minute performance. I'm not convinced they will, but they surely need it, especially with the Open Cup semifinal beckoning on Tuesday against the Chicago Fire.
2. For a team with so many offensive talents, why haven't the Revs been able to score more this year? Has Kei Kamara been helping?
As elementary as it will sound, New England's biggest issue in front of goal is woeful finishing. The likes of Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Femi Hollinger-Janzen would get ideal opportunities, only to misfire in the crucial second. Add in the fact that Lee Nguyen creates chances aplenty, and it can get frustrating to not see the net ripple more.
As for Kei Kamara, he's definitely helped the squad, and will only be relied upon more in light of Charlie Davies being traded to the Philadelphia Union. When the Revs acquired Kamara from Columbus Crew SC, the front office and coaching staff raved about finally having a true No. 9. All the intangibles that come with that - an aerial presence, hold-up play, tireless running and underrated passing - have played out, and the Revs are definitely pleased with the trade. Kamara also has a handful of goals, so he can provide the end product, too.
Another aspect to keep an eye on is Juan Agudelo is listed as questionable. He sprained his knee in the Open Cup against the New York Cosmos, and has missed almost the whole summer. He'll provide a little something different to New England's attack if healthy.
3. The Revs, like many teams in MLS, have been poor away from home this season. What has been the difference in their play at home versus on the road?
Much like their inconsistent performances, I think it boils down to a mentality thing. When at Gillette Stadium, the Revs seem to have a unique confidence about them, and it shows on attack and defense. The Fort gets rocking, Bobby Shuttleworth is barking out orders a bit more, the back line is deterring forays forward and the attacking pieces are pinging the ball around.
Conversely, when on the road, New England usually sits back a little bit more. Heaps will sometimes send the troops out to pressure high up the pitch early on, but then absorb pressure as the match wears on. That's when problems arise, as New England's defense just isn't good enough to bunker in. If they do that against Toronto, Jozy Altidore and Giovinco should have their way time and time again.
Projected Starting XI: