Few could have predicted Toronto FC's heavy loss against the Montreal Impact at home on Wednesday night but lose they did and now, the only team to have booked their place in the playoffs is set to travel away and face an inconsistent New England Revolution side.
The home side have a lot of work to do if they want a playoff berth
This has been a season of ups and downs for the Revs and they find themselves on the outside looking in as the Major League Soccer regular season reached its final stages. The last five games for New England have symbolized their season very well; two big losses to Atlanta United FC and Sporting Kansas City, two impressive wins against Orlando City SC and the Impact and then one narrow loss to fellow strugglers D.C. United. This weekend, they came up against a red-hot Toronto FC side which will be licking their wounds from their defeat this past week and the Revs may have a hard time keeping Toronto out of their goal.
The Revs will also go into this game without former head coach, Jay Heaps, who was fired by the team on Tuesday. Now, this may lead to a post-manager "bump" that usually comes when a caretaker head coach comes into the team but after conceding 51 goals so far this season, there is a very real concern that New England will be in for a tough game against Toronto. Kei Kamara and Lee Nguyen have been the bright spots for New England this season and they will have to be in excellent form to help their team win this weekend, just as they were the last time the two teams met at Gillette Stadium where the Revs came out as 3-0 winners.
Toronto will look to make recent loss an anomaly
With the playoffs already in their future, one might think that the team currently leading the race for the MLS Supporters' Shield took their foot off the gas on Wednesday night and were punished for it by their neighbors to the north. Head coach Greg Vanney will no doubt use that surprising loss to remind his team that the job is not done yet and any complacency will be punished in this league. Vanney will also know that New England has not been a happy hunting ground for Toronto this season, which will help him spur on his charges to regroup and refocus as they are about to enter the business end of the season.
Toronto has the players to bounce back from this stumble in their MLS journey so far and while many will look to Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore to steer the ship back on its course, the best player for my money in a TFC jersey this season has been Víctor Vázquez. After joining the MLS this season, Vázquez has played like someone who has spent his whole career in the MLS and has adapted very quickly to the pace and aggressiveness that comes with the league. His 16 assists and seven goals are a clear indication of how well he has fitted into the style and system that Toronto plays and when either Giovinco or Altidore have been unavailable for TFC, Vázquez has stepped up to the plate and helped Toronto win games. He will need to do so again against New England as his team looks to find winning ways again before the regular season ends.
Toronto has more than enough firepower to see this game out and will be looking to remind the rest of the MLS that they are the team to beat for the MLS Cup. They would have to have another seriously off day for the Revs to pick up a sizeable win this weekend.
New England Revolution 1, Toronto FC 3