Ok, I sent a preview before the holidays and came back from a nice trip to Vermont to preview a Serie B game. How else to explain the signings of over 100 Italian national team selections at Toronto FC and a Juventus U23 player at the New England Revolution. It’s clear that these aren’t teams pushing for the MLS Playoffs, but for promotion to Serie A.
It’s good to be home ❤️
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) July 30, 2022
We’ll touch on the recent/current fortunes of TFC and the Revs respectively, but it’s rather interesting that MLS teams have enough pull to get two current Italian national teams and one former, as well as a player from the MLS system. Juventus. We’ve already seen TFC’s potential in a 4-0 draw with Charlotte a week ago in which former Roma midfielder Michael Bradley looked 24 as he scored a brace in the first half. Toronto went from buffet-style baked ziti to penne ala vodka almost overnight.
Disastrous World Cup campaign aside for Italy, again wingers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi are both worthy Designated Players and have featured regularly for the Azzurri in 2021 and veteran defender Domencio Criscito on a TAM contract (who last played for Italy in 2018) goes a long way to rebuilding a struggling TFC side in one go. Add in Mark Anthony-Kaye’s trade from LAFC, where Bob Bradley coached him, and it’s a new Reds team that can absolutely push for the playoffs for a team that’s just six points away despite its 13th place.
Today could mark the debut of new Revs DP striker Giacomo Vrioni, who was signed from Juventus after a successful loan spell in Austria with Tyrol. Vrioni made his debut for the Revs last week off the bench, recording 23 minutes in a game largely devoid of scoring chances and the Revs attempted just 5 shots in total. What the Revs need is homemade spaghetti and meatballs…simple, consistent and always effective, especially at home.
With Adam Buksa sold to Lens, Jozy Altidore loaned to Puebla and Edward Kizza’s loans to USL, Bruce Arena doesn’t have much depth to draw on. It’s Vrioni, Gustavo Bou, Justin Rennicks, and that’s about it when it comes to real strikers. While the Revs don’t want to put a ton of pressure on Vrioni this season, their playoff fate could hinge on how quickly he acclimates to New England and finds the form that saw him lead the Bundesliga. Austrian scoring last season for Tirol. The Revs have a game in hand with Cincy, Charlotte and Chicago who sit above them in the standings and are just two points off that trio for 7th place. A few spicy fra diavolo goals from Gustavo Bou wouldn’t hurt either.
Toronto already have a logical Serie A landing spot in Torino with Torino… so we need one for the Revs. Connecticut is biased to me but I recommend landing on Syracuse to extend Big East Conference dominance to Syracuse in the United States. Wait, bad sport…
Today will therefore answer an important question for the Revs and TFC – are these two teams destined for a 2022 comeback or is the hole dug too deep already? Three points for each team would go a long way towards preparing for the playoffs, likely more for Toronto who take a road win and climb one point behind the Revs in the standings.
However, the most important question of the day to celebrate today’s Serie B game is: what’s your favorite Italian dish and/or your favorite place to get that dish? Drop a comment below or hit up Twitter so we can check out the responses after the #NERevsMediaGame tomorrow. We will also accept your favorite players as pasta dishes.
The correct answer is as always pizza from anywhere in New Haven, CT, but we’re going to ban all pizza answers, so I’m going to stan Mario The Baker’s in Bridgeport, CT as my go-to pasta spot.
We asked this question, and others, at wake up redit is Adam Palermo who I assume is linked to someone in Serie B side Palermo FC. Special thanks to the site manager of WTR Antoine Khoury for his help this week and as always, you can check out my answers to their questions on their site.
TBM: First things first, your favorite Italian/pasta dish and/or best place to go in the GTA?
AP: What a question. I should go with the spaghetti and meatballs or my dad’s homemade arancini!
TBM: Really weird push from Toronto lately trying to get promoted to Serie A, talk about the additions they’ve made recently.
AP: Insigne’s signature is the biggest of the bunch. After TFC chairman Bill Manning crossed the line, it seems he realised, “hey, the Italians might want to play here.” Signing Criscito was a wise move given the club’s lack of natural backs. Bernardeschi was the most recent acquisition, he adds quality to the right wing and allows Bradley to play his favorite 4-3-3.
2. Michael Bradley is clearly missing Roma, this could have been his best game in a while against Charlotte, what did you see of him clicking really well in this game?
2. It was great to see him step up and get on the scoresheet. Playing in a three-man midfield rather than a double pivot will be huge for the team and their individual game. The presence of Mark Anthony Kaye will give the team a better balance and may allow Bradley to have a little more freedom and play to his strengths.
3. Toronto is 12th in the East, just lost the Canadian champion final to Vancouver, but is there any chance they can salvage the second half and secure a playoff spot this year? What is the biggest problem that needs to be solved for such a turnaround.
AP: Looking at the chart, I honestly think it’s possible. Toronto is 6 points behind Cincinnati in 7th with a dozen games to play. The loss in Vancouver was a bit of a reality check after the big win over Charlotte, but I still believe the new Italians plus Mark Anthony Kaye will add some much needed quality and experience. The biggest problem that needs to be fixed is the defensive errors, we saw it in the Can Champ final.