Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New England Revolution

Photo: 215pix

Who: Philadelphia Union (2-1-2, 8 points) vs New England Revolution (1-1-3, 6 points)
What: 2020 MLS Regular Season
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
When: Thursday, August 20, 7:30 p.m.
Watch: PHL17, ESPN+
Whistle: Robert Sibiga, ARs Iaudiu Badea and Ian McKay, fourth official Adam Kilpatrick, VAR Alan Kelly

It’s hard to believe that the Union’s last match was two weeks ago, falling 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back semifinals. With the tournament now over the Union head to New England looking to keep their strong form going.

It wasn’t long ago when these team’s last met, meeting in the Round of 16 at MLS is Back. Sergio Santos provided the only goal in a defense-heavy match as New England was sent home.

Scouting report: New England

New England has become a much tougher side to play against since they appointed Bruce Arena as their head coach back in May 2019. Arena was not too happy with his team’s performance or the referees after the matchup last month, receiving a red card for abuse of officials after the final whistle.

New England has added many new attacking options since Arena’s arrival, with newest addition Adam Buska at striker joining the team in December 2019. So far this year, Buska has started all of the Revs regular season matches, accounting for two goals and seven shots on target. In MLS is Back the Union were able to keep Buska, and the rest of the New England attack, at bay due to the absence of Carles Gil, the Revs main playmaker. After joining New England before the start of the 2019 season, Gil was voted the 2019 Newcomer of the Year, notching 10 goals and 14 assists of the year, and only missing 8 minutes of play the entire year. Fortunately for the Union, Gil is out injured after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery last week. The next big addition to the Revs attack was Gustavo Bou, who joined the team in July of 2019. In his first season, Bou tallied 9 goals and 2 assists in 14 games and accounting for a goal and a assist so far in 2020.

In the back, New England also sports some new additions. At left back is now Alexander Buttner who joined the team in November from Vitesse in the Netherlands. After not starting the regular season, Buttner has made his way into the team, starting the first two MLS is Back matches. In central defense is Antonio Delamea  who has been with the Revs since 2017. Last season Delamea started 17 games including the playoff match against Atlanta, and started all 3 MLS is Back group stage matches after recovering from a hamstring strain. Last but not least is Matt Turner in net. The Park Ridge, N.J. native has spent his entire career with the Revs, being added to the first team roster in 2018. Last season Turner started 20 matches, keeping 5 clean sheets and totaling an average of 4.54 saves per match. At MLS is Back he started all of the Revs matches, keeping 2 clean sheets and only surrendering 4 goals.

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Will we see the same in form Union team we were seeing at MLS is Back, or will we see a team who hasn’t played in 2 weeks? The Union should line up in the exact same why they had in MLS is Back if anyone knows Jim Curtin, but it will be interesting to see how many minutes Andrew Wooten will be given as he returns to full fitness. Sergio Santos caught fire at MLS is Back but hasn’t yet clicked with Kacper Przybylko up top, with Pryzbylko visibly frustrated after his last two tournament matches.

Another thing to watch is the play of Jose “El Brujo” Martinez. In the knockout rounds of MLS is Back, he only had to worry about not being red carded due to no yellow card accumulation. Now in the regular season, he has to get away from his habit of one yellow per game if he wants to stay on the field to be effective. There is a clear difference when El Brujo is in defensive midfield and when Warren Creavalle is on the field. Despite being a defensive cog, Martinez help drive the attack forward for the Union. Union fans should also keep an eye on the play of Brenden Aaronson, after word got out that European teams have fielded offers for him. Will he let the rumors distract from his play or will he prove the Union right in asking for a higher price?

While we all know that Andre Blake was a brick wall during the MLS is Back tournament, the Union’s defensive system has let up too many clear chances. Mark McKenzie and Jack Elliott both played well during the tournament, but outside backs Ray Gaddis and Kai Wagner have been getting too far up field, creating an easy counter attacking option for opponents, and not helping Martinez’s yellow card situation. If the Union can correct their defensive issues, and still have in form Andre Blake behind them to bail them out, they’ll be a very tough team to break down.

Key matchup: Union attack chemistry

The biggest matchup isn’t one the Union will face the Revs in, it will be their own strikers. Can Santos and Przybylko hit the reset button on their partnership? Will offensive struggles lead to Brenden Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya and the outside backs pushing further up the field? If things aren’t working, how long does Jim Curtin wait to bring in Andrew Wooten? All of these questions should be answered by the 60th minute of the match hopefully.

Prediction: Philadelphia 1-0 New England

Going with the same scoreline as MLS is Back, both teams haven’t played in a while and New England is missing their top playmaker. A cagey and scrappy game calls for a Alejandro Bedoya goal early in the second half and the Union see out a road win.


  1. Also regionally-restricted streaming for free…

  2. So is Bruce suspended for this game or not?

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