The New England Revolution have traveled to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC on Saturday night at BMO Field. The Revs are coming off of a 0-0 draw with Columbus at home and will be looking for a precious road win, and also an important victory over a conference rival. Toronto, meanwhile, have gotten off to the worst start in MLS history, posting a 1-10-1 record, with the sole victory coming over an equally floundering Philadelphia side.
Toronto recently fired Aron Winter as head coach and replaced him with Paul Mariner, the former Revolution assistant. Mariner is well known in the Foxboro area as the man who helped Steve Nicol preside over the most successful period in the club's history, and his coaching chops are unquestioned. He also has experience with several players on the current New England roster, and coached Jay Heaps when he was still a player.
What Mariner will bring to the table is still somewhat unknown; he wasted no time removing Winter's much-maligned 4-3-3 system in favor of a standard 4-4-2, but his first two results with the Reds haven't been much to write home about. Toronto lost 2-0 last weekend to Kansas City, and squandered a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 against Houston on Wednesday. Still, Mariner is widely considered to be an excellent coach and tactician, and is especially well-versed in coaching attacking players, meaning that the Revs' defense will need to be on extra guard. Although, with designated player Danny Koevermans leading the line for Toronto, it's likely that the Revs defense has been preparing for the worst anyway.
New England's defense will already be in a deficient position, however, due to the absence of captain and holding midfield extraordinaire Shalrie Joseph to an adductor strain. It looks as though Shalrie will be replaced by fit-again Clyde Simms, and if that doesn't work out, Ryan Guy may have beaten his calf problem to take the field again. Simms is an MLS stalwart at defensive midfield, and Guy has filled the role admirably in the past. Still, without Joseph's qualities as a midfield general, the Revs are going to be on the back foot before ever taking the pitch.
Offensively, the Revs should have a field day. Toronto's defense is the worst in the league, having given up a whopping 26 goals in just 12 matches. Saer Sene, Lee Nguyen, and Benny Feilhaber should be salivating at the prospect of bombarding Milos Kocic's goal. They will be without the services of Jose Moreno, however, who sprained his ankle last week. Expect to see Blake Brettschneider up top with Sene, throwing his weight around and creating space for the lanky Frenchman to exploit.
The match will be televised live at 5:30 PM EST on CSN. 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the radio call.