Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution

Who: Philadelphia Union (1st place, 17 points, 5-2-3) vs. New England Revolution (12th place, 8 points, 2-2-6)
What: 2019 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pa.
When: Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 pm
Watch: PHL 17, ESPN+
Whistle: Joe Dickerson (head), Jeremy Hanson (assistant), Ian McKay (assistant)

Philadelphia will be riding high on the back of their victory over FC Cincinnati earlier this week, while downtrodden New England Revolution will be looking for their first win in nine away matches. It will be a clash between the top and bottom of the Eastern Conference, with both teams looking for all three points. The Union would especially benefit from another three points ahead of a challenging stretch against Toronto, Seattle, and Portland.

The Union have been winning vital games over the past two months and adapting well to a number of unexpected squad changes, so this should be no different. The Revolution have been struggling to get their footing this season, with just two wins in eight overall matches. However, they will be hungry for points to lift them off from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and back on track.

 

Scouting report: New England Revolution

New England have had a difficult season so far in 2019. Although their last match was a high-scoring draw against a strong Kansas City side, they’ve otherwise been out-scored 19 to 10 over their first 10 matches. They have been a team that has looked lackluster for most of the season but been able to pull points from unexpected opponents such as Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, and FC Dallas.

The glaring red flag for the Revolution side going into Saturday’s match is the double-suspension of defenders Brandon Bye and Jalil Anibaba, which will leave them exposed and under-strengthened in back. They will be scrambling to come up with a gameplan that accommodates the loss of half their defensive starters. On the other hand, New England’s defense has been very sloppy so a change of pace may help them out.

The Revs saw a fascinating surge in attacking efficiency against Sporting Kansas, so it will be interesting to see if they can maintain that offensive strength against the Union. Luis Caicedo and Juan Agudelo racked up 3 goals and 1 assist between themselves up front for the Revs, so it will come down to whether or not they can continue to keep up their attacking tempo against a reasonably solid Union backline.

Injury report:

OUT: M – Isaac Angking (left knee surgery)

Suspension report: Brandon Bye, Jalil Anibaba

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

 

The Union have been able to get firing on all cylinders over the past couple of months, and the preseason shift to the 4-4-2 (4-1-2-1-4) diamond formation has fully crystalized by now. At the same time, injuries and suspensions have kept the starting lineup fluid and adaptive, perhaps to the benefit of the Union.

Kacper Przylbylko has been a new face to Philadelphia’s starting lineup, replacing Cory Burke as the Union’s “large man” hold-up striker. It’s been a good start, as he saw his second goal in just two matches against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday. It is likely that he will continue to see minutes going into Saturday’s match.

The midfield domination that the Union have been achieving should continue against New England, with Jamiro Monteiro impressing with his work rate and pace. Captain Alejandro Bedoya and anchoring midfielder Haris Medunjanin have both been impressive over the past few games and have found a good balance between their offensive and defensive responsibilities. Most interestingly and impressively, 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson has continued to earn his starting spot at the top of the diamond while Marco Fabian has been out.

The big vulnerability to look out for against New England will be Philly’s ability to keep up stamina as well as their reliability on defense. This will be the Union’s third match since last Saturday, and with key players continuing to be injured, the starting squad will have to step up and play a good 90 minutes. Additionally, the match against FC Cincinnati saw multiple vital mistakes on defense, especially with Auston Trusty and Jack Elliott. While they did a good job cleaning up their mistakes, they will need to be much more careful going forward.

If the Union are able to convert their opportunities and keep tight discipline on their backline, the Chester-based team should see themselves remain at the top of the Eastern Conference by the end of the weekend.

Injury report:

OUT: GK – Andre Blake (right adductor); D – Mark McKenzie (appendectomy)

QUESTIONABLE: M – Marco Fabian (left ankle sprain); M – Anthony Fontana (left ankle sprain); M – Ilsinho (left hamstring strain)

Suspension report: None

Key matchup: Kacper Przylbylko vs NE’s defense

With the return of Kai Wagner and the impressive display that the Union midfield showed midweek, Przylbylko is sure to receive plenty of service and opportunities to score. It will fall on the Revolution’s outside backs to block crosses and threatening passes, and their center backs to neutralize Przylbylko’s aerial strength.

Player to watch: Jamiro Monteiro

Philadelphia’s central midfielder has been a revelation in the middle third of the pitch. He was quite the spectacle against FC Cincinnati, and has an impressive agility and work rate that makes him very valuable to the Union’s transition football approach. Keep an eye on how he is able to get into the scrum in key areas of the pitch, and enjoy his ability to lose his mark by shifting his body. The benefit of the Union being on a hot streak is that most of their players are worth keeping an eye on, but Jamiro Monteiro wins out for this week by virtue his impressive performances so far.

Prediction: Union 3 – New England 1

Philadelphia has been able to shore up most of the defensive problems that plagued them early on in the season, and have recently started clicking in midfield and offense. With New England defensively disadvantaged coming into the weekend fixture, it seems likely that the Union will be able to capitalize. As long as they don’t waste too many chances, it could be a high scoring match. At the same time, the Revs should get at least one goal considering that the Union are playing their third game in a week and may be slightly vulnerable. Overall, the top team in the East should beat the bottom team readily. Will that happen? We’ll see soon.

20 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Surprised to see Freese isn’t on the injury list. Has anything positive been determined about his condition or is it possible that the source hasn’t been updated since Wednesday?

  2. Peanut Gallery says:

    Whoa. The projected lineups can’t be right. Am I having a nightmare? 🙂
    .
    But what an incredible reminder of the contrast between the “then” and “now.”

    • Haha I got cold sweats just seeing our lineup. I have to admit just seeing that how overwhelmingly better our roster is now.

    • Nick Fishman says:

      Was tempted to leave it in. Fun to remember Herbers, Marquez, and Onyewu 😉

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        I went to edit it when I saw it posted and decided to leave it for nostalgia’s sake.

  3. Looks like the wrong lineups are linked for both teams.

  4. HopkinsMD says:

    If you are Curtin, who do you choose to rest?

    • pragmatist says:

      Aaronson. Start Fabian, since he’s had 10+ days since he’s played. Bring in the kid with 20 minutes left. Suits both of them.
      .
      Also Gaddis. I love Ray, but with the heavy schedule, give Mbaizo minutes against the worst team in the division and let Wagner run at them on the left all day. Ray could use a break.
      .
      And if you get a lead, find a way to get Bedoya and Medujanin a break. Somehow.

    • If Fabian’s ready, I agree with pragmatist. Again, I’ll presume Curtin will be reluctant to make changes, but sitting Gaddis in favor of Wagner and Mbaizo seems sensible to me. Aaronson should be in the 18 to spell Bedoya after 60 or so.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    As of noon, Union website club roster lists Charlie Lyon as an MLS pool goalkeeper.

  6. The Truth says:

    Boys in blue dropping like flies. How long can this team weather the storm? Freese is out 4-6 weeks and now Burke is banned from the USA for at least 3 months. Summer signing(s) looking very likely.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Summer signings are always a good thing and we haven’t had one in FOREVER… so gimmie gimmie gimmie!!

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I’m not super big on summer signings. Neither Bedoya nor Barnetta really hit their stride until the following season. In 2014, their summer signing who had played in a little tournament in Brazil wreaked havoc on the team for almost a year.

      • pragmatist says:

        Summer signings take a while to adjust if they are not from within MLS. If it’s a trade or something from within MLS, then it’s game on. Otherwise, a summer signing is either:
        a) filling in gaps for the current season,
        or
        b) getting a key player added game time for next season.
        .
        Of course, examples like Rooney are the obvious exceptions. But given our history…

  7. HopkinsMD says:

    I feel bad for Cory. Has to be frustrating. I’ll place the link to Tanner talking about it below.

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