New England Revolution 2015

With the end of the MLS season looming near, the battle for playoff spots is getting hot as ever. This weekend, two teams right on edge of the playoff qualification will square off at BMO Field in Toronto. A visiting New England Revolution currently occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in East and sit just three points above Sunday’s opponents. Toronto sit tantalizingly close to their first ever playoff appearance, and with their star-studded lineup anything short of a postseason run will be marked as a failure.

The Revs are one of the hottest teams in the league right now and are riding a six-game unbeaten run. During this streak, New England has enjoyed dominant three-goal performances including a statement 3-1 win over Sunday’s opponent. While Jay Heaps’ men don’t look like they can match last year’s second place conference finish, the beauty of the MLS is that they any finish higher than fifth gives them a shot at another MLS Cup run. If they conquer Toronto on Sunday, the Revs will almost entirely be in charge of their own destiny going into the home stretch.

In the last two games, the Revolution’s best player has been Diego Fagúndez. The 20-year-old seems to have rediscovered the flair and goal scoring ability that made him a fan favorite in the last two seasons. The Uruguayan winger has scored in two straight games, including this well placed game-winner against the Philadelphia Union two weeks ago. Fagúndez, along with New England’s other attacking options in Juan Agudelo, Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury, could help push New England to a vital late season victory on the road.

The major storyline that Toronto fans will be focusing on going into this weekend’s matchup will be the fitness of star striker Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian suffered an adductor muscle in the team’s 2-1 victory over Montreal two weeks ago, was forced to miss out on Italy’s Euro qualifiers last week, but Greg Vanney told reporters Giovinco may feature Sunday afternoon. In last week’s game against Seattle, the absence of Giovinco, paired with Jozy Altidore missing the match through international duty, greatly limited the attacking options that Toronto had, and put a lot of pressure on Michael Bradley to create the majority of the offense. The reintroduction of Altidore into the lineup should immediately help the Canadian in the attacking third, but if Giovinco can’t play, Toronto can’t provide nearly the same offensive threat.

Sunday’s match marks the start of a very hectic week for Toronto. Between September 13th and September 19th, the Canadians will play in three league matches, with two of those, including Sunday’s fixture, coming against teams in the Eastern Conference. The result of the game against the Revs could provide the squad with the momentum to rattle off three straight invaluable victories and secure a comfortable place in the playoffs, or it could mark the end of the club’s push for a first ever playoff birth.

These two clubs have met twice before this season with New England winning 3-1 in the reverse fixture, after a 1-1 draw back in May. A major deciding point in this match will be whether or not Giovinco is healthy, because I think that Toronto is a much weaker team without him. Assuming that the Italian is forced to watch Sunday’s game from the sidelines, final score: New England 2-1 Toronto


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