The New England Revolution have come a long way since their wretched start to the season but still have a long way to go to nail down a playoff berth heading into Saturday night’s crucial showdown at home versus Toronto FC.
New England (10-9-8), which took eight points from its first 12 matches, is sixth in the East on 38 points and more incredulously, only three behind the Red Bulls for fourth and potentially hosting a first-round postseason match. The Revolution improved to 8-6-1 in their last 15 league matches following a 2-1 victory over the Fire last Saturday.
Gustavo Bou continued being a difference-maker since his mid-season arrival from Tijuana, this time belting a match-winner from 20 yards in the 86th minute after the Fire turned the ball over in their final third. The Argentine has five goals – two of them match-winners – in seven games since his signing, fueling New England’s rise up the table.
“He’s scoring a lot of goals for us and giving us lots of points,” teammate Carles Gil said through an interpreter to the Revs’ official website. “Certainly if he was here since the beginning of the year, I can see him being a player that can score more than 20 goals a season, because he’s proven it over the last few games. We’re delighted to have him in the team.”
Gil, a Designated Player signing in January, has quickly formed a devastating partnership with Bou as the Spaniard has recorded the primary assist on two of Bou’s goals. Gil leads New England with nine goals and 12 assists and has totaled five goals and seven assists in his last nine appearances.
New England is 5-2-1 in its last eight home games, with the lone loss coming to Supporters’ Shield leader Los Angeles FC.
Toronto FC (10-7-10) is just outside the top seven on 37 points, trailing Montreal on the wins tiebreaker. While not ideal, a road point would be an acceptable outcome for the Reds since they have two matches in hand on both the Impact and fifth-place D.C. United, who have 39 points.
TFC are unbeaten in three matches (1-2-0) after spoiling Wilmer Cabrera’s coaching debut with Montreal in a 2-1 victory over the Impact last Saturday. Marky Delgado and Justin Morrow scored second-half goals to rally the Reds, who have won back-to-back games or better on just two occasions this year and look to grind out a result against the in-form Revs.
“It’s been a grind in every sense of the word,” captain Michael Bradley told Toronto FC’s official website. “We’ve had good moments, moments that haven’t been good enough. We’ve had moments where we’ve missed guys and we’ve had to put out different types of teams on the field, but when you get to this point in the season so much rides on every game and every play.”
Toronto will be looking for midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo to get back on track, with the All-Star Spaniard now without a goal or assist in his last five league matches.
Jozy Altidore, who set up Morrow’s match-winner versus Montreal, scored the decisive goal in the reverse fixture between the teams March 17 in a 3-2 Reds victory. Gil had a brace on either side of halftime, staking the Revs to a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute and pulling them level seven minutes after halftime.
Toronto FC has never swept a season series from New England since entering MLS in 2007 and is winless in its last seven trips (0-2-5) to Boston since a 1-0 victory in 2013.
(Gustavo Bou photo courtesy Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)