The New England Revolution have turned things around following a disappointing start to the season.
While Toronto FC hasn't seen much go its way of late, Jermain Defoe's return could provide a much-needed boost.
Looking to extend its three-game unbeaten streak, New England goes for its first win in eight all-time visits to Toronto on Saturday.
The Revolution (3-3-2) opened 0-2-1 and were limited to two goals in their first five games, but they've since outscored foes 5-1 during a 2-0-1 stretch.
New England stayed hot last Saturday with a thrilling 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. Teal Bunbury broke a scoreless tie in the 92nd minute, and Lee Nguyen sealed the victory with a penalty kick three minutes later.
"I liked our mentality and I liked how we finished the game," coach Jay Heaps said. "Our players worked hard to at least cause a problem and I think good things happen when you work really hard."
The Revolution are now 2-0-1 at home, but they've been outscored 9-3 in going 1-3-1 on the road.
"I think it's important that we get good results at home," defender Andrew Farrell told the club's official website. "It feels good when you get the win so you can build on that going into a tough environment like Toronto's going to be with the high caliber of player that they have there."
New England went 1-1-1 against Toronto last season, including a 1-all draw north of the border. The Revolution are 0-2-5 at BMO Field.
"It's going to be a good test," Farrell added. "It's important to keep those guys, especially Defoe, in front of you. If he gets in behind, he's really tough to deal with. He's got speed and he's a world-class finisher."
Defoe missed the last three matches with a strained hamstring. The forward, playing in his first season in MLS and trying to secure a spot on England's World Cup roster, scored three goals in his first three games with Toronto (3-3-0) before the injury.
"I'm 100 percent now. I feel stronger than I was before," Defoe said. "I'm not one of those players where I worry about, when I get an injury, coming back worried and sort of like not giving it my all. I'll go out there and do exactly what I did before, I'll just give everything."
Defoe's return couldn't be coming at better time for Toronto, which has managed just one goal in dropping its last two games. The club, which was off last weekend, fell 1-0 to Colorado on April 12 and 2-1 at FC Dallas on April 19.
Issey Nakajima-Farran opened the scoring in the 21st minute, but Toronto went on to allow the winning goal in the 88th minute.
"Unfortunately the repetition and law of averages says that if you keep allowing them opportunities to get the ball in, chances are they're going to get a goal," defender Steven Caldwell said.
Dallas outshot Toronto 17-11 and controlled most of the second half's possession.
"We have to be honest with ourselves and just say we weren't good enough," midfielder Michael Bradley told MLS' official website. "Obviously disappointing to concede a late goal, but you certainly hope that now as the season goes on that we are able to have the maturity and come away with a point on these kind of days."
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- Jermain Defoe
- Toronto FC
- New England Revolution