While Paul Mariner hasn’t led MLS-worst Toronto FC to victory in two games at the helm, the club seems to be heading in the right direction under its new coach.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to the New England Revolution.
Seeking its second win, Toronto tries to stay unbeaten in six home games against the road-weary Revolution on Saturday.
Since setting a league record by losing its first nine games, Toronto has gone 1-1-1 over its last three. It beat Philadelphia 1-0 on May 26 in its final game under former coach Aron Winter before losing 2-0 at Sporting Kansas City last Saturday in Mariner’s first match.
Toronto (1-10-1) went on to earn its first road point Wednesday, recording a 3-all draw with Houston. Forward Danny Koevermans’s second goal in the 45th minute gave his club a 3-1 lead before the Dynamo scored twice in the second half.
“We always come to every game to win,” defender Ashtone Morgan said. “We were up 3-1 at half, and we thought we were going to be in cruise control. … We gotta take what we get.
“It’s been a rough week for us but we stay positive and it feels really good. … We’re leaving here with a point and move on to Saturday’s game against New England.”
While Toronto is still getting acclimated with Mariner, forward Ryan Johnson has already seen a difference since his promotion from director of player development.
“We’re sticking together, we’re sticking to the game plan of what Paul tells us to do,” Johnson said. “We’re creating chances at the same time, we’re defending well. The more time we get in the system—the more that we can learn it—the better we’ll get as the games go on. So hopefully, the next game, instead of this being a tie, this can be a win for us.”
A win Saturday would surely be extra special for Mariner, who spent six years as an assistant with the Revolution from 2004-09, helping lead them to three consecutive MLS cup appearances.
“I know that’s something he’s been wanting and hoping for the last couple years is to get his own team and to be in charge of his own team,” New England goaltender Matt Reis told the team’s official website. “I’m excited for him in that regard, but at the same time, we’d definitely like to put it to him, beat him and have a beer and a laugh afterwards.”
Reis made three saves for the Revolution (5-7-2) during last Saturday’s scoreless draw with Columbus, earning his third shutout and 58th of his career. Reis, though, has allowed a combined five goals in two career visits to Toronto.
The Revolution have dropped six of seven on the road in league play, including four in a row while managing three goals. They’ve gone 4-26-9 as the visiting club since the start of 2010, and are 0-2-3 in five matchups in Toronto.
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