New England extends unbeaten run to eight games with victory over Toronto FC

Former Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea (22) goes to ground to control the ball as New England Revolution midfielder Ema Boateng (18) defends during first half MLS soccer action in Toronto on Saturday May 6, 2023. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Bobby Wood and DeJuan Jones scored as the high-flying New England Revolution extended their unbeaten MLS run to eight games with a 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday.

Toronto (2-3-6) had lost just once in its previous nine games (2-1-6) and was looking to build on a 1-0 victory last Saturday over New York City FC. Instead it was beaten for the first time in six outings (2-1-3) at home this season.

New England (7-1-3) came into the game atop both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings on goal difference over FC Cincinnati. New England has gone 5-0-3 since suffering its lone loss of the season, a 4-0 defeat at Los Angeles FC on March 12.

New England came out hot and took advantage of a Sigurd Rosted turnover to go ahead in the 19th minute. The normally reliable Norwegian centre back misplayed the ball under pressure from Wood, allowing the New England forward to race in alone before slipping the ball through goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s legs for his third goal of the season.

The Revs went ahead 2-0 in the 62nd minute. Johnson made a fine reflex save to deny Carles Gil, only to see Jones hammer the rebound home as the Toronto defence was ripped apart.

Toronto was not short on shots on the night but few found their target.

It was a seventh career meeting between veteran coaches Bob Bradley of Toronto and Bruce Arena of New England, whose relationship stretches back some 40 years. Their head-to-head record was knotted at 2-2-2 coming into the match.

Arena, with 257 regular-season coaching wins, and Bradley, with 193, stand No. 1 and 3 in MLS ranks. The late Sigi Schmid, after whom the MLS coaching award is now named, is No. 2 at 240.

The 65-year-old Bradley and 71-year-old Arena have a combined 500 career MLS wins when you add in playoff victories, the most by a pair of coaches facing off in a match. They also have seven MLS coach of the year awards between them (four for Arena and three for Bradley).

Toronto was once again missing the injured Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio, two-thirds of the Toronto midfield. Bradley and Osorio have combined for 624 appearances for TFC in all competitions.

Defender Matt Hedges was a late scratch for Toronto, with Shane O’Neill coming in at centre back. Kobe Franklin started at fullback for the injured Raoul Petretta with CJ Sapong making his second start up front since joining TFC in an April 25 trade with Nashville.

Aime Mabika made his Toronto debut when O’Neill had to leave in the 69th minute.

It was a welcome 17 Celsius at kickoff for the announced crowd of 27,438 at BMO Field after a wet week in Toronto.

New England managed to find space in the Toronto end in the first half. At the other end, TFC star winger Lorenzo Insigne began leave his post on the left flank for a more central position in search of the ball.

The Revs controlled possession to start the game with Ema Boateng testing Johnson with a shot in the 15th minute. Insigne then tried to chip Serbian international goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic from distance but his shot was off the mark.

Toronto had a chance soon after going behind but Richie Laryea’s shot went wide. And Toronto midfielder Brandon Servania’s powerful shot from distance was just high in the 25th.

Johnson had to be sharp in the 42nd minute to parry a Noel Buck rocket,

Toronto had three first-half free kicks from dangerous positions just outside the penalty box but Federico Bernardeschi’s effort hit the New England wall and Insigne was off target in the 35th and in first-half stoppage time.

Petrovic parried a sharp-angled shot from Laryea in the 51st minute. A minute later, a deflected Bernardeschi shot went just high. The Revs ‘keeper had to deal with another hot shot from Insigne in the 73rd minute.

Former Toronto striker Jozy Altidore came off the New England bench to cheers in the 61st minute.

Altidore, whose contract with Toronto was bought out in February 2022, ranks second in the TFC record book in goals (79) and fifth in appearances in all competitions (173). The 33-year-old Altidore had seen just 77 minutes of league action over four games this season, all off the bench prior to Saturday.

Proof of TFC’s roster turnover was shown by the fact that Laryea was the only Toronto starter Saturday who was part of the first team when Altidore was.

New England’s injured list included Colombian star winger Dylan Borrero, out for the season with a knee injury suffered last weekend.

Both Toronto and New England face challenging schedules ahead.

Saturday marked the first of seven games in 25 days for Toronto, which faces Montreal twice next week — in Canadian Championship play on Tuesday and league play Saturday. Four of the Revs’ next six league outings are on the road.

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