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Revolution 2, FC Toronto 0

Revolution shut out Toronto FC, hold on to first place in Eastern Conference

New England Revolution forward Bobby Wood, who scored in the 19th minute, battles with Toronto FC defender Sigurd Rosted.Frank Gunn/Associated Press

It took a while, but Bruce Arena got the edge on his former assistant, Bob Bradley. The Arena-coached Revolution took a 2-0 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field Saturday night, retaining first place in the Eastern Conference and giving Arena his first victory over Bradley since 1998.

Bobby Wood and DeJuan Jones scored as the Revolution (7-1-3, 24 points) outplayed Toronto (2-3-6, 12 points), improving their unbeaten streak to nine games in all competitions.

Wood scored his third goal of the season, taking possession off Sigurd Rosted just past the halfway line, then going directly to the penalty area, firing under Sean Johnson in the 19th minute.

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The Revolution controlled the early part of the game, but nearly fell behind as Lorenzo Insigne just missed wide from 45 yards.

Both Arena and Bradley went to their benches early in the second half, the Revolution adding Jozy Altidore and Latif Blessing, TFC going to a two-forward alignment. The pace picked up immediately, and the Revolution upped the lead to 2-0 as Jones finished a rebound of a Carles Gil shot in the 62nd minute. Jones started the sequence on the left wing, Gil one-timing Emmanuel Boateng’s cross, and Johnson’s save going to Jones on the edge of the goal area.

The Arena-Bradley pairing goes back to the early-1980s, when they were at the University of Virginia, and continued at D.C. United in the first two years of MLS. In 1998, Arena and Bradley split four games, Bradley guiding the Chicago Fire to victory over United in the MLS Cup final. Arena and Bradley went separate ways, including long stints with the US national team, and did not face each other again until last season, when the Revolution and Toronto FC played to two ties.

Observations from Saturday’s game:

▪ Defining moment: Jones’s goal. While protecting a second-half lead on the road, many teams will discourage defenders advancing into attack. Not the Revolution, though.

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“I think for both of the wingers, they didn’t want to get back that much, so I saw an opportunity,” Jones said. “I knew I’d be free if I went forward and, yeah, if they don’t want to defend, we’re going to have to make them pay, and I thought [it] was a good time to take advantage of the space.”

Jones and Boateng won the wing battle against Federico Bernardeschi and Richie Laryea, and Brandon Bye contained Insigne on the other side.

▪ Difference-maker: Gil controlled the tempo, his passing threat drew the defense, and his willingness to fire away set up the second goal. With Noel Buck and Matt Polster in support of Gil, the Revolution had the midfield edge.

▪ Tactical: Both teams went with a single striker alignment, the Revolution getting key production out of Wood, who also kept the TFC defense off balance with pressing and off-the-ball runs. Toronto’s C.J. Sapong, who has scored nine career goals against the Revolution since 2011, was mostly stifled by center backs Andrew Farrell and Dave Romney.

▪ Statistical analysis: Toronto got off plenty of shots (19-10 edge), but had few clear chances.

▪ Road ahead: The Revolution, who meet the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the US Open Cup at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, stayed ahead of FC Cincinnati on goal difference. The Revolution visit Inter Miami and the Philadelphia Union in their next two league games, while Cincinnati plays its next two at home. The Revolution are off to their second-best start after 11 games, behind the 2005 team (7-0-4, 25 points), and a point ahead of 2021 (7-2-2).

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▪ What Arena said: “Winning games like this on the road is difficult. Therefore, I would agree that it was a pretty good win in terms of us being able to maybe dictate the terms of that game for many minutes. It was one of our better performances.”




Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.