The Revolution will take on their first Canadian opponent of the season when Toronto FC pays its first of two visits to Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
New England has won a paltry four of its 14 games this season, but with a win over Toronto and a New York Red Bulls loss, the Revolution (4-5-5) would be in a playoff position almost halfway through the MLS season.
All four wins for the Revolution have come at home, while the five losses have all come on the road. New England will be looking forward to a homecoming Saturday after taking just 1 point on a two-game New York road trip.
Last Saturday, the Revolution blew yet another lead on the road in a 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls before rallying for a 2-2 tie Wednesday at New York City FC. The Revolution overcame a pair of deficits in the midweek clash.
“I thought it showed some great resolve,” said coach Jay Heaps. “Each time we went down, I thought we responded in the right way — we got better. I loved that response.”
Midfielder Xavier Kouassi connected with a beautiful cross from Kelyn Rowe to net a header for the late equalizer against NYC. Kouassi had sustained a left quadriceps strain moments earlier but soldiered on after New England had used all three of its subs. He will be unavailable Saturday.
“He laid it all out on the line,” said Heaps. “He couldn’t walk at the end. It doesn’t look great in terms of turnaround. We’re just hoping it’s not a long-term injury.”
The Revolution will be looking for another splendid performance from Lee Nguyen. With his helper Wednesday, the midfielder became the second player in club history to have 40 goals and 40 assists, joining Steve Ralston. His six assists this season are third in MLS only to Toronto’s Victor Vazquez (8) and Houston’s Alex (7).
Toronto, the reigning Eastern Conference champion, has carried last season’s success into 2017. The Reds sit atop the conference with 29 points, 5 ahead of second-place Chicago.
The Revolution and Toronto last met in August 2016. New England was walloped by the host Reds, 4-1, as Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat trick and Jozy Altidore provided the exclamation point for Toronto.
Toronto is also coming to the end of a busy stretch. It dominated Columbus last Friday in a 5-0 rout at home without the services of Altidore or Giovinco. The latter returned in a substitute appearance Wednesday in a 4-0 Canadian Championship victory over Ottawa Fury FC. Giovinco scored once and provided an assist.
New England, Toronto, and 14 other MLS clubs will be off next week for an international break. Three Revolution players were called to their national teams. Antonio Delamea (Slovenia), Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone), and Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) will all depart Sunday.
“No one wants to sit on a couple weeks after a loss,” said Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell. “We know how important this game is and we’d like to have a few days off after a win.”