Toronto can expect reinforcements for Sunday’s visit by the New England Revolution. Just how many is the question.
Toronto coach Greg Vanney will welcome the help. While he was proud of the gritty performance of his undermanned squad in a 2-1 loss in Seattle last weekend, New England is standing just above his team in the Eastern Conference standings.
New England (11-9-7) enters weekend play in fourth spot with Toronto (11-11-4) in fifth. Come the playoffs, the fourth-place team will host the fifth-place side.
“It’s a huge game on Sunday,” said Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “We know it, they know it. It’s going to be interesting. Hopefully we can get a few guys back in the lineup.”
Toronto was missing at least seven starters in Seattle.
Vanney was without defenders Ahmed Kantari (foot), Damien Perquis (quad), Nick Hagglund (knee) and Justin Morrow (wife giving birth), midfielders Jackson (hamstring), Benoit Cheyrou (ankle), Daniel Lovitz (heel) and Collen Warner (suspended) and forwards Jozy Altidore (international duty) and Sebastian Giovinco (adductor).
Warner remains suspended but Altidore and Morrow are back. Vanney offered nothing concrete Friday on the return of Giovinco and Cheyrou.
With two games next week, Vanney may not rush players back into action. Toronto visits New York City FC next Wednesday before hosting the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 19.
New England gets influential midfielder Jermaine Jones back from national team duty.
The Revolution blanked Orlando 3-0 last weekend to extend their win streak to four games, their longest run of victories this season.
They have outscored their opposition 9-1 during that stretch. It started with a 3-1 victory over Toronto at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 1 followed by shutouts over Houston, Philadelphia and Orlando.
New England is also unbeaten in six (5-0-1).
For the Revs, it’s been a feast or famine season.
It started with two losses followed by a nine-game unbeaten streak (5-0-4), a four-game winless streak (0-2-2), a single win and five straight losses, leading up to the most recent unbeaten run.
“Once they get going and they get confident, they’re a handful,” said Vanney. “Because they’re active, they’re busy, they have good soccer players, they work really hard and they’ve got an arrogance and swagger about them once they get going. And you’ve got to break into that a little bit.
“I think, as we’ve seen, they’re sort of a team that can go in spurts. They can run off a lot of wins, they can also go the other way a little bit and fall into a lull. I think that’s really where their confidence is and right now they’re a confident group.”
A Toronto win would be a franchise-record 12th for the season, surpassing the 11 of last year’s 11-15-8 campaign.
Toronto’s career record against New England is 4-8-7 but it is 0-4-1 against the Revs over this season and last.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press