MLS Preview: Toronto FC - New England Revolution

A struggling Toronto FC outfit will try to hold on to their pride at BMO Field as the 1st place New England Revolution come to town.
New England Revolution v. Toronto FC
When: 7:30 pm ET, Saturday, August 23, 2008
Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
TV: Fox Soccer Channel


The Gist: Saturday night’s game between New England and Toronto pits two teams against each other who are at opposite ends of the table and are clearly headed in different directions.

After recovering from their worst run of form of the 2008 season (a three-game winless streak) by beating D.C. United 2-1 on Wednesday, the Revs look poised to continue their previous smooth sailing as they take on 6th-placed Toronto, who have only one win in their last 13 matches and only two victories since the end of May.

The game will also see some familiar faces return and a fresh one potentially make his debut as defenders Marvell Wynne and Michael Parkhurst of Toronto and New England, respectively, make their return from the olympic games, while newly acquired Toronto player Carlos Ruiz is set to debut for the Reds.

What to Watch For: Ruiz will be the big story for Toronto as the striker recently completed his move from Los Angeles. Sources close to “El Pescado” say that the Guatemalan frontman isn’t exactly thrilled about a move to Toronto and the idea of playing on turf.

Whether Ruiz shows up for Toronto or not remains to be seen, but his scoring prowess will certainly help the Reds who have only managed to score 21 goals all season, with only 10 coming at home.

Trying to counteract the presence of Ruiz will be the Revolution’s stellar midfield led by Steve Ralston. The Revs usual middle three of Ralston, Shalrie Joseph, and Jeff Larentowicz provided New England with the possession they needed to beat United. They present so many different offensive looks -- even Larentowicz, the hard man, scored in midweek -- and will undoubtedly cause the weak Toronto defense problems. However, the loss of Gambian speed merchant Sainey Nyassi hinders the Revs' right side.

Coming off an impressive performance at the Olympics, young defender Marvell Wynne is easily Toronto’s best player on the back line, but with little help from the rest of his defense, Toronto will be hard-pressed to quell the pressure brought on by the dynamic Revolution offense that is tied for 5th in the league in goals scored.

The last time these two teams met back on June 28th, the Revolution came away 2-1 winners, both goals coming from captain Ralston. Toronto barely managed a sniff as their goal came by way of a 78th minute own goal by Revolution midfielder Joseph.

Since that game, the teams have gone their separate ways in the standings as the Revolution went on an impressive unbeaten streak that lasted nine games, while Toronto is still suffering from their extended run of poor form that stems all the way back to mid-June.

He’s So Hot Right Now: Taylor Twellman. The Revolution man might have a hard time beating a Toronto defense that has conceded only four goals at BMO Field, a league low among home team performances. But Twellman has three goals in just five appearances this year should get more chances against TFC, considering the support and service he’ll receive from his midfield.

Prediction: New England 1 - 0 Toronto FC

-- Shane Evans, Goal.com