Once again, the circumstances are stacked against Toronto FC. The Reds face the New England Revolution, a team currently outside the playoff spots but unbeaten at home, without two of their designated players on Saturday night.
We’ve been here before, though; back on May 6, to be exact, when Toronto visited the Seattle Sounders without two other key cogs - Sebastian Giovinco and Drew Moor - and ground out an unlikely 1-0 victory. After that, it’s impossible to write Greg Vanney’s side off in a game like this.
There are some similarities; Seattle, like New England, are eighth in their conference but would be undefeated on their (turf) field too if not for their loss to Toronto. Both teams have experienced American attacking midfielders, an infusion of Uruguayan flair and a back line that might be exploited, with the Revs having conceded 21 goals this season (joint-second-worst in the East) and the Sounders 22 (third-worst in the West).
Toronto will believe history can repeat itself, but there are also reasons to predict this will be a more difficult match. Unless Sebastian Giovinco can have himself a day soon after returning from injury, the Reds may miss Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore more than they did the Italian at CenturyLink Field. They will also feel the absence of their ever-reliable midfield workhorse Marky Delgado, who is suspended.
Benoit Cheyrou will need to get through a second 90 minutes in a week in Bradley’s absence and one or both of Jordan Hamilton and Ben Spencer will be asked to deliver the most mature performance of their young careers so far. Toronto will need their share of luck, too; New England, like Seattle, have been plagued by inconsistency this season but are capable of beating anyone in MLS when they click.
It will require another mammoth effort on the road, but who would bet against these Reds at the moment?
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1 & 4 (Canada), CSN New England (New England)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada), MLS Live (out of market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), 98.5 The Sports Hub (New England)
Toronto are without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who are on international duty, while Armando Cooper’s status - having been called up by Panama - is unclear. Nick Hagglund remains sidelined with an MCL injury and Tosaint Ricketts is likely to miss out with hamstring tightness. Marky Delgado is suspended.
New England are missing designated player Xavier Kouassi, who has a quad strain.
New England: Cropper; Tierney, Angoua, Delamea, Farrell; Koffie; Caldwell, Rowe; Fagundez; Kamara, Nguyen.
Subs: Knighton, J. Smith, Femi, Kobayashi, Watson, Woodberry, Agudelo.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Beitashour, Cooper, Cheyrou, Morrow; Vazquez, Giovinco, Edwards.
Subs: Irwin, Endoh, Hernandez, Osorio, Hamilton, Chapman, Spencer.