New England Soccer Today

Reds in Town

Shutting down service to Toronto’s dangerous attack will be the key for A.J. Soares and the Revs defense. (Photo: Kari Heistad)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will try to extend their overall unbeaten streak to six games when they host Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. On paper, the Revolution, who are unbeaten at home in their last seven games, should take care of Toronto easily, who enter the match with the league’s second worst defensive record and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

But as the Revolution know all too well, anything can happen. Three weeks ago, Toronto hosted the Revolution and had their way with them, taking an unexpected 2-0 lead. Only a strong second half performance that included goals from Blake Brettschneider and Chris Tierney prevented the Revolution from suffering one of their more embarrassing losses of the season.

“We’re not satisfied with draws,” said Chris Tierney, who scored the game-tying goal in the last minute of stoppage time when the two teams last met. “We thought that we could get out of there with three points and we knew that we were the better team on the day.”

“We were happy that we got the point on the road, but we’re confident that any time we step on the field we should take three. That’s our attitude going forward. We want to turn those last minute ties into last minute winners.”

Toronto may enter Saturday night’s game in last place in the Eastern Conference, but they are far from wounded. Since relieving Aron Winter of head coaching duties and passing the responsibilities to former Revolution assistant Paul Mariner, Toronto have been in much improved form.

Mariner has a positive 2-2-4 record in his first eight games as coach, including a last-second 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, and has made a slew of decisions to ensure that his team can not only improve its performances this year, but also prepare for the seasons to come. On Friday, Mariner signed off on a bold deal that sent designated player Julian DeGuzman, a Canadian International, to Dallas in exchange for Andrew Weideman, a young midfielder.

Toronto is also playing like they have nothing to lose. While it’s still a bit too early to completely discount them from the playoffs, their lackluster form at the beginning of the year points to Toronto yet again missing out on the postseason. Mentally, there is something relaxing about not worrying about making reaching the postseason. And, with a slew of talented players and a new coach, Toronto are dangerous.

“It’s basically the same group that started the season but they’re playing with a new bit of passion so they’re a tough team to beat,” said coach Jay Heaps. “They’ve got a lot of threats. It’s a concern. We want to make sure that we don’t let them play.”

Toronto’s best threats come from their forwards. Both Danyy Koevermans and Ryan Johnson are strong, athletic players who have recently been in good form. Both players notched goals against the Revolution in the 2-2 draw. Heaps wants to limit the service to Koevermans and Johnson, something that the Revolution failed to do last time.

“We didn’t do well with it the last time,” said Heaps. “We want to handle it differently. They did a nice job of attacking down the left side.”

“Their outside backs overlap and we saw that last time,” added Heaps. “That’s where their service comes from. It comes from the outside backs more than the midfield. That makes it a little bit more dangerous. The cross is arriving a second later so there’s more time to get into the box. If we can cut the service to the wide players and make sure when they get the ball they don’t have time to cross it, that’ll be key.”

Reach Julian at:…follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

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