Revolution ripe for the picking

Toronto FC's top draft pick Maurice Edu.(Sun File/Alex Urosevic)

Toronto FC's top draft pick Maurice Edu.(Sun File/Alex Urosevic)

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Toronto FC will be looking for their first Major League Soccer win in franchise history tonight when they take on the New England Revolution in that team's home opener in Foxboro, Mass.

Although the Revolution were the 2006 MLS Cup finalists -- losing the championship game to Houston Dynamo -- the team has been hit by a rash of injuries to its starting 11 that leaves them ripe for the picking by the expansion Toronto side.

In yesterday's Attleboro (Mass.) Sun Chronicle Revolution coach Steve Nichol lamented that he'll be hard pressed to field a squad that even resembles the kind of team that got to the final last season.

Nichol will be without starters Michael Parkhurst (shoulder), Daniel Hernandez (groin), Shalrie Joseph (calf), Pat Noonan (hernia), Marshall Leonard (Achilles), Khano Smith (knee) and Joe Franchino (personal).

That will force New England into starting a number of newcomers -- Wells Thompson, Gary Flood, Adam Cristman and Arsene Oka at key positions.

Nichol, however, has no hesitation in the starting the youngsters, some of whom played in a 1-0 loss to Chicago Fire last week.

"Adam Cristman did well, he works hard, he holds the ball," Nichol said. "He and Taylor (Twellman) connect well. Gary Flood was in there to do a job. I thought he did it very well, letting Andy Dorman go forward. Wells had flashes. Once he gets some more games under him, a little more experience he'll get better and better."

New England captain Steve Ralston is a little more concerned about the plague of injuries that has struck the team roster.

"We're missing a lot of guys," Ralston said. "Parkhurst is out, Khano Smith, Danny Hernandez, Marshall Leonard, Joey Franchino -- we've got a lot of guys that normally play who are missing. On the other hand, I think the rookies that came in, started and played pretty well."

Over on the TFC sidelines coach Mo Johnston is having none of the "woe is us" propaganda that is being put out by Revolution coaches.

"This is a team that has gone to the MLS final three times in the past five seasons," he said. "They are a very good team. They created a lot of chances against Chicago. Despite new players in their lineup they will be a tough team to beat."

Johnston admitted he has been on the hunt for some new talent but has yet to connect with anyone he really wants.

"I tried to make a couple of trades yesterday, but nothing happened," he said. "We are moving forward, challenging our players to do better."

Johnston is also hoping that the overall No. 1 pick in the MLS superdraft, Maurice Edu, will see his first action as a professional in tonight's game.

On the TFC injury front Ronnie O'Brien (medial collateral ligament) and Chris Pozniak (hamstring) are out.


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