There’s no place like home. At least not for Toronto FC, which has yet to lose an MLS match at BMO Field. Their record away from home is another story as the Canadians continue struggling when they make their way south.
New England’s home form has left something to be desired this season. It hasn’t been terrible, but not as good as you would expect from the team with the best record in MLS. Things seem to be improving on that front as the Revs secured their second straight win at Gillette Stadium against Toronto.
SBI correspondents Andrew Karl and Duane Rollins took in the action and gave us their takes on the match:
Revs finally dominate at home
By ANDREW KARL
A convincing home win is something Revolution fans hadn’t seen since the home opener against the Houston Dynamo. Until Saturday night, that is. The Revolution put in a dominating performance over road-weary Toronto FC in front of a good crowd. New England’s fans got to see stellar performances by Steve Ralston, Kheli Dube, and Mauricio Castro as well as 15 minutes of Taylor Twellman.
Man of the match honors most certainly go to Steve Ralston. Many pundits and journalists have lauded his soccer IQ and positional sense recently, and they’re absolutely right. Not a counter attack goes by where Ralston doesn’t make a late run into the box, not a cross comes across toward Adam Cristman’s head without Rally streaking in behind him. His first goal was just as such, following up Cristman’s post-bound header off a great cross by Kheli Dube. His second was more an example of his patience and skill with the ball at his feet. This goal was set up by the crossbar, which rudely interrupted a beautiful and brilliant strike by Dube. The Zimbabwean’s curling, dipping, volley from 18 yards out had the entire stadium in disbelief. "Did that just happen?" is what I would have muttered if my tongue was not draped over the bald head of the fan in front of me.
A few weeks ago, after the Thursday night win in Houston, I wrote about Dube’s emergence as a true goal scorer. While he hasn’t found the score sheet since that game, efforts like last night have him staking a strong claim as the number two striker, behind Taylor Twellman. At the beginning of the year I thought Kenny Mansally was the easy and definite choice to pair up top with Twellman. But after his absence with the Gambian national team, the impression Dube has left on me may have eclipsed that of Mansally. While the Gambian striker may provide a better foil for Twellman’s game, I think the partnership of Dube and the club’s franchise player needs to get a good look. I don’t think Cristman enters the equation here. That’s not to say his recent performances haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s ran hard, put in the work, and really hustled in the last few games and I don’t have anything bad to say about the Adam we’ve seen the past few fixtures. But what do you guys think? Who do you want to see partnered up top with Twellman in the coming weeks?
When Shalrie Joseph headed home an own goal in the 78th minute, I had that bad feeling again. That feeling that the Revs were falling asleep and about to allow three hard earned points elude their grasp. This feeling came back tenfold only a few minutes later when, amid a scramble in front of Matt Reis’ net, Michael Parkhurst blocked a goal bound header off the line. If Toronto had found a way to score and tie this game up, this post would be much different. It would be bitter and biting. Fortunately, Parkhurst came up big in the clutch and Ralston’s brace was enough to capture the win. There’s a fine line between a dominating performance and an unlucky draw, a line which New England toed in entertaining fashion on Saturday night.
After the game, I went home feeling more than satisfied or fulfilled, I felt entertained. It was a good game, the home team came out on top, and there were a couple jaw dropping moments. My emotions ran the gamut at Gillette Stadium, joy after the goals, disbelief after Dube’s strike off the bar, and sheer panic during Toronto’s last gasps. The range of feelings and emotions, the different places that a good game of soccer can take you in 90 minutes is one trait the beautiful game doesn’t share with many others. Hopefully the rest of the crowd recognized and appreciated this on Saturday night as I did. Because if so this team may only be a soccer specific stadium away from breaking into the ranks of the big four Boston sports teams.
Road woes continue for TFC
By DUANE ROLLINS
The math is starting to get ugly for TFC. Although 21 points and a playoff spot at about the midway point of the schedule is more than most fans expected, there is a troubling inconsistency in those numbers.
Eight games at home, 18 big points.
Just six games played on the road, three ugly (and lucky) points.
Jekyll and Hyde, Ernie and Burt, the angle and the devil–whatever cliched antonym you want to throw out there it fits. Toronto is capital A awesome at home and it capital S–let’s go with struggles (to keep things clean)—away from the plastic glory that is BMO Field.
It’s difficult to understand why. You can appreciate that a team’s performance at home is always going to be a little better than it is on the road, but Toronto is re-writing the book here. The Reds are 2005 Chivas USA bad in the continental United States. They are Manchester bloody United at home—well, relatively speaking anyway.
And so it was Saturday. With a chance to close the gap to first place overall—to make a real statement that they had arrived and should be considered legitimate MLS contenders—the Reds…didn’t get it done.
An ugly early goal set up by poor defending and sleepy goalkeeping took what momentum Toronto had from a somewhat strong start away. TFC never was out of it Saturday, but it never seemed close to winning either.
New England is in the Supporter’s Shield slot for a reason. It knows how to win and it wasn’t about to let Toronto escape with points.
Back in Canada, TFC is staring at a two-week break from MLS play. Although 21 points would put them into the post season if it started today, it seems unlikely that that will be the case by the time Toronto takes on Chicago (on the road, it must be said). That’s a long time for a Toronto fan to ruminate.
Sadly, it won’t be a restful time for the Reds, who will play a friendly and two CONCACAF Champions League qualifying games during the break.
But, maybe the distraction is a good thing. Playing the extra games will stop TFC from getting out its calculators and doing that ugly math alluded to above.
If Toronto continues on its same pace it should expect to receive 34 points at home. Away from Toronto, another eight should come.
Based on TFC’s remaining schedule, that will give the Reds 42 points on the season. Over the past three years (adjusted to a 30 game schedule) the final playoff berth has required an average of 40 points.
So, TFC would be right there—by a whisker. And, that’s only if it maintains its near perfect record at home.
As stated, it’s scary math for the TFC fan. Of
course, it’s better than being a bottom feeder again—just a lot more stressful.