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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution

Photo by Paul Rudderow

Editor’s note: Tune into PSP’s YouTube channel before the game for PSP’s pregame coverage live from Talen Energy Stadium. Check PSP again after the match for our live post-game coverage.

Who: Philadelphia Union (9th in the East, 19 points, 5-4-7) vs. New England Revolution (8th in the East, 20 points, 5-5-7)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA
When: Sunday, July 2 at 5 pm
Watch: FS1, MLS Live
Whistle: (Server down, check back later.)

It may not feel like it, but Sunday’s game against the New England Revolution could wind up being a very important turning point for the Philadelphia Union. There is no chance at making a deep US Open Cup run this year, so the only thing left is to make the most out of league play. And with this matchup being the 17th game day, it marks the final game of the first half of the season. If the Union are able to build on their victory over DC United last weekend, another playoff appearance is within reach. And the Revs are the perfect opponent for such a game as with a game in hand, they’re only one point ahead of the Union. So three points here would put Philadelphia a step ahead of them in the race for a playoff berth.

Scouting report: New England Revolution

Expected New England Lineup

Fresh off their US Open Cup win over DC United, the Revs will look to bring back some of their more experienced players as they return to MLS play. Luckily for the Union, both Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe have been called up for the US ahead of the Ghana friendly and the group stage of the Gold Cup. Agudelo in particular will be missed by New England, as he’s the team’s leading goal scorer by a large margin. It’s likely Kai Kamara will be taking his place in the starting XI. In years past , that might have been challenging for the Revs’ opponents, but in 2017 Kamara has scored just 4 goals in 15 appearances. Which isn’t to say he’ll be a non-factor but less of a threat than he has been in years past.

Rowe’s absence in itself might not be too significant of a loss for the Revs, but it does move Diego Fagundez into the center of the attack. It’s a position he’s played before, most recently on Wednesday night against DC. He scored in that game, signifying he’s not completely pacified there. But exploiting an out of position player like this could be an important step in breaking up a brittle Revs attack.

A threat that hasn’t died down since the Union last saw New England is Lee Nguyen. With six goals, he’s second only to Agudelo and his seven assists show he’s a threat passing as well. Playing on the right wing, he’ll represent a significant challenge for the Union’s left back and left center back.

  • Injury report: Xavier Kouassi (M, quad strain), Daigo Kobayashi (M, hamstring)
  • Suspended: None.
  • International duty: Juan Agudelo (F, USMNT), Kelyn Rowe (M, USMNT).
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Expected Philadelphia Lineup

If the story for New England is about changes being made, the Union’s is exactly the opposite. Obviously some changes will be made due to Alejandro Bedoya’s being called up to the USMNT but otherwise, it’s likely this lineup will look largely the same as the one that defeated DC United last weekend. The only question marks are in the back line. Giliano Wijnaldum seems to be getting closer to MLS-readiness with every appearance he makes, and it’s really comes down to whether Jim Curtin thinks he will do a better job than Fabinho at shutting down Nguyen. On the right, Keegan Rosenberry seemed a bit more comfortable Wednesday night against Red Bull New York, but unless something significant happens in practice before the game it seems likely Raymon Gaddis will continue to be the starting right back for the time being.

Even further back, keeper is significantly less clear. Andre Blake will not have joined Jamaica yet, as the Reggae Boyz don’t play again until their Gold Cup opener vs. Curaçao. However it appears that John McCarthy started against Red Bull not out of US Open Cup tradition but because Blake suffered a rib injury during practice. Reports say he’s been X-rayed and cleared to play, so it seems reasonable to expect he’ll be starting, but it also wouldn’t be shocking for the team to play it safe and give John McCarthy the nod. The team will have to make due without Blake for a bit, so it might as well start getting comfortable with his replacement now.

  • Injury report: Maurice Edu (M, surgery recovery), Fabian Herbers (F, right adductor), Warren Creavalle (M, hamstring), Richie Marquez (D, knee tendinitis), Brian Carroll (M, back)
  • Suspended: None.
  • International duty: Alejandro Bedoya (M, USMNT)
Key matchup: Lee Nguyen vs. the Union’s Left Defense. 

As stated above, the most dangerous player able to play for New England this weekend isn’t their striker, it’s their right winger. Lee Nguyen has always been a dynamic player, and controlling him and limiting his impact on the game will be essential for the Union to secure a win.

Player to watch: C.J. Sapong

He quieted fears during the 4-game win streak earlier this season, but hasn’t seen the same consistent success since then. Finding the back of the net shouldn’t be a challenge against New England’s defense, so it could make for easy fuel to relight his goal-scoring fire. However failing to do so could have the opposite effect, further contributing to a reputation for inconsistency.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2 – 1 New England

There’s plenty of things that could go wrong, no doubt about that. But at their best the Revs aren’t significantly better than the Union, and international duty has hit them much harder than it has hit the Union. A win won’t necessarily be easy but at home, it should be expected.



  1. Can’t have less than 3 points with the rest of July being an absolute grinder.

  2. MLS announced that Diego Fagundez will be suspended for this match.

  3. Nguyen KILLS the Union.I don’t understand how he always seems to be creating space and overmatches for the midfielders and defenders. Good luck, boys. Get all of the points. (By the way, this is great scheduling, and should be one of those “rivalries” that MLS is so desperate to create. Use the Revolutionary War as the basis for the Patriots Cup between the Revs and the Union.) Thank God that Blake is still here. Clean sheet!

    • pragmatist says:

      I’m with you on the “rivalry” thing (loose definition here). You could call it something like The Independence Cup and try to drum up a little animosity between fan bases.
      1) I don’t think anyone in New England cares
      2) This would be unadulterated and transparent marketing. Not sure how it would be accepted
      3) NE doesn’t have a natural rival, and neither do we (no matter how much MLS pushes the NYRB thing). It could be an addition to Rivalry Week.
      This is all just ridiculous marketing thoughts, but in a league that is fixated on creating rivalries, maybe they shouldn’t limit them based on proximity.

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