FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution hold just one objective in their gaze for the visits by Toronto FC and Chicago this week: picking up two crucial wins.
“I think we have to look at it that way,” Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph told MLSsoccer.com after he and his teammates went through their paces Tuesday. “Being at home, nothing less will suffice right now.”
The task starts with a date against Toronto FC on Wednesday night (8 pm ET, TSN, watch LIVE online). The match comes at a decent time for a struggling New England side. Although the Revs fell to a fourth consecutive defeat at New York last Friday, they managed to break their barren run in front of goal and create a series of chances during the second stanza against the Red Bulls.
In order to secure a much-needed victory over TFC, New England must continue to carve out opportunities in the attacking third, according to Revolution forward Kenny Mansally.
“In the second half [against New York], we got a couple of chances and we were running into good spots,” Mansally said. “Even in practice [on Tuesday], we did the same thing. We just need to keep that going, game-in and game-out.”
Most of the attacking thrust came after Revolution boss Steve Nicol inserted Mansally as a substitute and switched to a 4-4-2 formation to add an extra body in the attacking third. The success enjoyed during that period has encouraged Nicol to consider whether he wants to continue with the usual 4-5-1 alignment or move to a 4-4-2 setup.
“It gives us something to think about, definitely,” Nicol said. “Considering the amount of chances we made, we certainly have to got to think about it.”
Questions over the availability of Ousmane Dabo and Didier Domi could prompt further changes to the starting lineup.
Dabo won't play against TFC after he limped out of the match at Red Bull Arena early in the first half with a right quad strain. Pat Phelan or Stephen McCarthy would likely compete for one spot in central midfield if Nicol opts to reduce his midfield numbers, but both players could be accommodated if Nicol opts for a five-man midfield.
Domi departed the Gillette Stadium training field halfway through the Revolution's practice session on Tuesday morning and threw his availability against TFC into doubt. The French defender subsequently appeared on the injury list as questionable with right Achilles tendonitis. If Domi isn't fit enough to feature against the Reds, Darrius Barnes would almost certainly take his place at left back.
Those potential changes may alter the personnel, but they must not impact the Revs' desire to start the match quickly against a Toronto side buoyed by Alan Gordon's late equalizer in last weekend's 2-2 draw at LA. Gordon's two-goal return to the lineup after missing six games with a groin complaint bolstered the Reds at the weekend, but Nicol said the Revs must blunt the visitors' momentum with a bright start.
“They'll come in, I'm sure, on a bit of a high,” Nicol said. “To score a goal in the 94th minute to get a point is always a good-feel factor kind of thing, so they'll certainly be coming here with a wee skip in their step. We have to make sure we start the game and knock that out of them as quickly as possible.”