Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New England Revolution

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 2-2-1, 8 points, MLS is Back: 2-1-0) vs. New England CF (1-3-1, 6 points, MLS is Back: 1-2-0)

What: 2020 MLS is Back Tournament;  Round of 16 –  1st Knockout Stage

Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando Florida

When: Saturday, July 25 at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Whistle: Referee: Ishmail Elfath,  Assistant Referees Kyle Atkins,Chris Wattam, 4th Official: Drew Fischer. VAR: Logan Brown 

Well, the Union made it past the Group Stage and are set to play in the First Knockout Round of the MLS is Back Tournament.  Their form through the Group stage was by no means magisterial, but some soft competition and an excellent performance throughout by goalkeeper Andre Blake got them to the next level.  By ending up second in the group, the Union earned the non-coveted 10:30 PM time slot –  silver lining for us viewers, at least it is a Saturday night.

The New England Revolution made it to this level by securing second place in Group B. They only gave up one goal during their 1-2-0 group stage run but also only scored two against the group’s middling competition (Montreal, Toronto and DC).

New England coach Bruce Arena likes to spread the field wide, create space and stretch the defense.  Using a 4-4-2, which sometimes morphs into a 4-2-3-1,  the Revolution will employ an aggressive press, try to win the ball back quickly and push the ball forward.  They do not prioritize possession.  

Their best player is attacking midfielder Carles Gil (pronounced Heel).  Gil is a creative mid and instrumental in the Revolution’s attack – however, he missed the last game with a foot injury and is wearing a walking cast so it is unlikely that he will be able to play on Saturday.  That will be a blow to the team as he regularly sets the table for DP forwards Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa.

Coach Arena made six changes to his lineup for Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Toronto so  come Saturday they will have some fresh legs.

 Injury Report:   Out: Luis Caicedo (m); Questionable: Carles Gil (m)

Scouting report: Union

The Union’s road to the knockout round was not pretty but they did enough to get  there. Coach Curtin has stayed primarily with the  4-4-2 diamond formation though he did switch to a 4-3-2-1 in their last game against Orlando when Ilsinho subbed on. The player rotation and substitutions were much lower than one would expect in this tournament but we should still assume the lineup will remain mostly intact. Defensive midfielder Jose Martinez will return to his starting spot after missing a game due to a suspension.  Otherwise the only foreseeable change is at the center back position, but will probably remain as Elliot and McKenzie

The Union will need to improve upon several aspects of their game to move forward.  Their high pressing style has been somewhat lackluster, surely due in part to the weather and fitness issues.  If they plan on creating turnovers and counter-attacking, their style will have to be more aggressive which may require the full use of the five allotted  substitutions.  The forwards  also need – to get forward.  A number of crosses from the wingers went through the box last game but nobody was there to drive it home.

Brendan Aaronson has been a bright spot in the midfield but Monteiro still seems a bit off.  On several occasions the two midfielders have been on top of each other so their spacing needs to improve.

Finally, the back line and defensive midfielder need to be on the same page.  With Martinez back this should improve (fingers crossed that he can make it through the game without another card).  The Union can’t keep counting on Andre Blake to bail them out.

Injury Report: Questionable: Andrew Wooten (f) 

Key Matchup:  Union Forwards vs Revolution Defense

The Union starting forwards have only scored once in the tournament so far. Getting forward, making clean first touches and finishes will be important against a defense that has only given up one goal in the tournament.

Player to Watch: Montiero

He has had an uneven start to the season but his quality is due to come out soon.  As this is an elimination game, now would be a good time. 

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 New England (in regulation)

As a note, there is no extra time in this round.  A tie after regulation will go directly to penalty kicks.


  • Philadelphia Union:            +156
  • New England Revolution:  +164

For you degenerate gamblers…the line has been moving back and forth but has stayed within a tight range.  Vegas sees this as a close match with no clear winner.  We know differently.


  1. Chris Gibbons says:

    I’m putting all of the imaginary dollars I’ve set aside for gambling on MLS into the “Tournament Winning Goal by Andrew Wooten.”

  2. I think I saw this asked, but did not see the answer. With the red does Martinez’s yellows to this point go away and/or they cleared as we enter the knock-out stage. I feel he was 1-2 yellows away from an accumulation sit-down.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I think they’re all cleared after the group stage.

      • McMohansky says:

        Game Broadcast mentioned no yellow card accumulation penalty going forward. Unclear what additional penalties come with a straight red.

  3. I guess getting 9 points was the priority for this tournament from a gaffer’s standpoint…….just curious on thoughts here. Since you already did a pretty good job and secured 7 of 9 points……do you squad rotate for the round of 16 and even the round of 8…..and if you are lucky enough to progress…come out with your best 11 for the semis for that Champions League spot? Things that ping around the noggin while mowing the lawn…….

  4. Section 114 (Former) says:

    Does anyone know what is up with Cory Burke? Is he coming back? Is he being sold?

    • I know he’s posting videos of him sweating thru workouts in Jamaica on Instagram. Probably trying to prove he’s staying fit. No word on return to US or elsewhere that I can find.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *