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Toronto FC, New England looking to turn the tide after disappointing showings

Toronto FC head coach John Herdman shouts instructions from the sideline during second half MLS soccer action against the Vancouver Whitecaps, in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, April 6, 2024. Toronto FC and the New England Revolution are both looking to climb out of a hole when they meet Saturday at BMO Field. After a promising start under Herdman, injury-depleted Toronto has lost three straight. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Toronto FC and the New England Revolution are both looking to climb out of a hole when they meet Saturday at BMO Field.

After a promising start under John Herdman, injury-depleted Toronto (3-4-1) has lost three straight while being outscored 10-3.

New England (1-5-1) made it as far as the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup but has found league wins hard to come by under new coach Caleb Porter.

Porter sees some similarities with Toronto.

"There's a transition that their club's going through with a new coach, a new way of playing," he said. "So you see some inconsistencies, very similar to us … There's an evolution here and an evolution there, and that evolution happens with time, it happens with adding personnel. And we'll get there."

The MLS's primary transfer window closes Tuesday.

Herdman is also still learning about his team but says TFC is coming from a different place than New England.

The Revs finished sixth overall in the league last season with 55 points, 23 above last-place Toronto. And the Revs can call on all three of their designated players — Spanish playmaker Carles Gil, Italian-born Albanian international forward Giacomo Vrioni and Argentine forward Tomas Chancalay.

Toronto is without its talisman, injured Italian star Lorenzo Insigne.

Both teams were issued challenges this week.

Herdman said veteran goalkeeper Sean Johnson spoke to the team after the poor defensive showing in a 3-2 loss at Charlotte last Saturday.

"We've just said 'Enough,'" said Herdman.

Porter, in his first season at the New England helm after stints with Portland and Columbus, has also asked his players to step up.

"I want to see what these guys are made of," Porter said. "We're all not happy with where it's at. We don't feel good. None of us. If you feel good right now in your life, then something's wrong … So I'm looking for us to take action in this game this weekend. I want to see a group of guys that are doing something about it."

The Revs have yet to win on the road with three losses this season, beaten 2-0 at New York City FC last time out.

"I didn't like the way we played versus New York overall," Porter said. "That's not how we want to play. It was too direct. We do need to play soccer a bit more than we did in that game."

He called the loss "a step in the wrong direction."

"It's becoming my team but it's not my team yet. Part of that is getting pieces," he said.

"I'm learning the guys that can do it and there's a good group that can … We have a good group of guys, but I need leaders, I need fighters, I need winners. So I'm learning that."

Only San Jose (1-7-0) is off to a worse start.

The Revs had to divide their attention between league play and the CONCACAF Champions Cup where they defeated Panama's CAI (4-0 on aggregate) and Costa Rica's Alajuelense (5-1 on aggregate) before losing to Mexican powerhouse Club America 9-2 in the quarterfinals.

The Revs lost their first four league outings, outscored 10-3 but have gone 1-1-1 in their last three MLS games.

Herdman's defence will be thin Saturday with Kevin Long suspended and fellow centre back Shane O'Neill injured.

Also injured are Insigne, Richie Laryea and Brandon Servania, with Alonso Coello the latest addition to the list as he works his way through concussion protocols.

Italian DP Federico Bernardeschi is dealing with a "small muscle strain" picked up in the closing minutes of the Charlotte game. Bernardeschi and defender Raoul Petretta, who only lasted the first half in Charlotte, are listed as questionable.

Rookie wingback Tyrese Spicer should be back after sitting out with a toe injury. Still Herdman expects to only have 19 players dressed Saturday, one less than normal.

New England lost 1-0 when the teams met March 3 at Gillette Stadium. The Revs have gone 1-3-1 since in league play with the lone win coming April 6 in a 1-0 decision over visiting Charlotte.

New England has scored a league-low five goals while conceding 13 to rank 24th on defence.

The Revolution holds a 16-11-13 career edge over Toronto, including a 5-6-6 mark at BMO Field. New England is unbeaten in its last three trips to Toronto (2-0-1), including a 2-0 victory last May.

After New England, Toronto hosts League1 Ontario champion Simcoe County Rovers in Canadian Championship play Wednesday.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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