FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It’s become an annual rite of spring in the sphere of MLS: a talented Toronto FC team stumbles out of the gate. And this year has been no exception.
But even though the re-stocked Reds enter Saturday’s contest against the Revolution as a work in progress, one player isn't overlooking the challenge they’re capable of posing.
“They’re a team that’s trying to find a rhythm, and (get) into sync,” Revolution striker Charlie Davies said. “(But) they’re a team that’s dangerous. If we can stop them, I think we shouldn't have a problem stopping any team, because they’re a team that can score goals in a variety of ways.”
Scoring hasn't been a problem for Toronto thanks to the additions of former Juventus midfielder Sebastian Giovinco and primary U.S. Men’s National Team striker Jozy Altidore. Through the first eight games of the season, the duo has combined for nine of the team’s 12 goals.
Michael Bradley’s presence in the middle of the park continues to make Toronto a team to be reckoned with, despite what their 3-5-0 record may indicate. His experience playing with Altidore for the U.S. has been evident early, and will only improve as the season progresses.
Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones has collaborated with both Bradley and Altidore at the National Team level. It's the first time Jones has faced Altidore in MLS, but the Revolution midfielder is treating it like any other regular-season clash.
“It’s a normal game,” Jones said. “It’s important to look at the whole Toronto team, rather than just three designated players (Bradley, Altidore and Giovinco) against one (Jones), or something like that.”
While there’s no shortage of firepower in Toronto’s attack, they haven’t been sharp at keeping their foes off the board.
One area of concern is their form in the defending third. Nick Hagglund and Damien Perquis have given the squad consistency at center back, but there’s plenty of room for improvement after conceding multiple goals in six of their first eight.
Davies is hoping to make it seven of nine on Saturday, particularly because of his familiarity with Perquis. The two were teammates at French side Sochaux from 2009 to 2012, and Davies is hoping to get the best of someone he called “a good friend” once referee Sorin Stoica blows the opening whistle.
“I’m really looking forward to playing against him,” Davies said. “He’s going to do everything he can to knock me off my game, and I’m going to do everything I can to put the ball in the back of the net.”
After watching chances go to waste early in last week’s game at Orlando, the Revolution know they’ll have to bring what Davies called “a killer instinct” into Saturday’s game.
Diego Fagundez was quick to point out what the Revolution must do to avoid a reprisal of last week’s 2-2 draw.
“Finishing our chances, and making sure we finish out the game,” Fagundez said. “Those last 10 minutes in Orlando were tough for us, it was hard for us to control, especially after they got that first one. You just have to finish those games out.”
In many respects, Saturday’s game will serve as a proving ground for both sides. And with a number of shared National Team connections, Davies is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough, but fun, match-up to play against former teammates and friends of mine,” Davies. “It’s another big game for us, they’re an Eastern Conference opponent, and we have to take advantage since we’re at home.”