By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution have lost five games in a row. Since its impressive, 2-0, win over FC Dallas on September 10, The Revolution have been outscored 11-4, and the defense has looked a shell of it’s already fragile self. Since A.J. Soares’ surgery on Oct. 6, the defense has looked shakier than ever. The rookie’s presence has been sorely missed in a defense that already struggled with identity and protecting its goalkeeper — Soares was voted by the press as the Revs’ Defender of the Year.
This season, New England will win the fewest games in club history (5 or 6, depending on the game against Toronto FC). The Revs could register the first 5 win season by any team in Major League Soccer since the New York Red Bulls in 2009 if they lose Saturday’s game in Toronto. The Revolution are 1-9-6 on the road this season, and 0-2-3 on trips across the boarder to Canada. So, a loss looks more than likely, especially because Toronto finally seems to be turning it around.
Toronto FC hasn’t fared much better this season, but it’s a re-building year for the club, and it knows it. Aron Winter was brought in during the offseason to take Toronto FC in a new direction. He played and coached at Ajax, the storied Dutch club, for a number of years and was singled out as someone who could change the culture of Toronto’s team, pushing it into a newer, more attack minded direction. He’s tried his best to instill the 4-3-3 formation and the Ajax style of play, but a revolving door of players and a lack of skill when he arrived at any position hampered progress. Since then, there has been a revolving door of talent as Winter tries to piece together a team capable of passing the ball on the ground, dominate possession and attack with relentless abandon.
Lately, though, Toronto has started turning it around. With a 3-0 win over FC Dallas in the midweek Champions League clash, Toronto moved onto the quarterfinals of the tournament. Danny Koevermans looks like the real deal and has adapted well to the pace and physical play of MLS, and if he can keep up the solid form, he could be a leading goalscorer next year in the MLS as well as the man to lead the line as the center forward the 4-3-3 system needs. It’s too bad he’s only been able to play 9 times for the team since signing in June because the Reds sorely needed his goalscoring ability early in the season as it staggered out of the gate.
Both teams want to win on Saturday to put a positive spin in the offseason after tough seasons. BMO Field is a tough place to play, and without Soares or Diego Fagundez (out with a concussion), the team’s attacking sparkplug, the Revolution will find it hard to win at one of the rowdiest home-fields in all of MLS.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.