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Match preview: New England Revolution vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (10-5-3, 35 points) vs. New England Revolution (7-7-4, 28 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season (Week )

Where: Gillette Stadium, 

When:  October 19, 2020 at 7:30 PM (Eastern)

Watch: PHL 17

Whistle: Referee: Rubiel Vazquez,  Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Matthew Nelson, 4th Official: Adam Kilpatrick. VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero 

You can be forgiven if you’re having feelings of deja vu. Monday will be the fourth time the Union and the New England Revolution play each other this season.  They have met twice already in league play and once in the MLS is Back Tournament – the Union earned two wins and a draw in those three low scoring affairs. As a bonus, they also meet again on November 8th.The teams have the luxury of an extra day’s rest as the game was pushed back a day due to scheduling issues with that other New England football team.

The Union are coming off a mediocre performance against bottom-dwelling D.C. United on Wednesday, squandering an opportunity to pick up some important points and move up in the table.  They will need to play much better against an improving Revolution team if they wish to maintain (or improve upon) their solid second place standing in the East.

Scouting Report: New England

The Revolution have won four of their last six matches and sit in fifth palace following a 3-2 win over Montreal on Wednesday.  Coach Bruce Arena has been steadfastly rotating his players through this phase of the season in an attempt to keep them fresh.  Only three players on Wednesday were in the starting eleven the previous game.

Designated Player striker Adam Buska is finally showing some promise, scoring twice in recent weeks sharing the load with the team’s  leading scorer Teal Bunbury. Forward Gustave Bou has been injured but he put in a 20 minute shift last game, so expect to see a lot more of him tonight. The team’s best player, midfielder Carles Gil has been out for much of the season and is now talking about returning this year, but not in time for this game (maybe in November)Playmaker Lee Nguyen was brought back to New England mid-season.  He brings a lot of experience and savvy to the midfield and the Revolution have been better with him around.

New England has kept their tactics consistent. They  spread the field wide and create space in an effort to  stretch the defense while using a 4-4-2, which sometimes morphs into a 4-2-3-1.  Typically the Revolution will employ an aggressive press, try to win the ball back quickly and push the ball forward.  In prior matches against the Union, New England clogged the central passing lanes, slowing the Union’s progress upfield and then falling into a low block.  New England is in second place in MLS in goals against, with just 16, tied with the Union

Injury Report:   Out: Luis Caicedo (m);  Carles Gil (m); Cristian Penilla (f)

Scouting report: Union

There was  big news in Union-town this week as Brenden Aaronson and his transfer to Red Bull Saltzburg made headlines. Aaronson will be here for the remainder of the 2020 season and has committed to helping the Union win some silverware before he leaves.  The Union also clinched a playoff spot.  As the league announced that there will not be a Supporter’s Shield this season, the Union’s final games will be all about jockeying for top seeding in the playoffs. 

The Union will play this game down three midfielders:  Alejandro Bedoya is out due to yellow card accumulation, Jose Martinez is still returning from international duty, and Warren Creavalle is injured. On the plus side, it looks like center back Jakob Glesnes will be back from his concussion protocol and Corey Burke will be available after a long visit to immigration purgatory (cue the fireworks). Putting together a lineup will be difficult, especially in the midfield. A couple of possible lineups are:

  1. Standard 4-4-2 with Fontana at the tip, Aaronson and Monteiro at the center-mid and Elliott at the six. 
  2. The recently used 4-2-3-1 with Monteiro and Aaronson as defensive mids and Santos, Fontana and Ilsinho as the attacking mids.  Or perhaps put in Elliott as the defensive mid and swap out Aaronson for Ilsinho.

If history is a guide, New England will force the ball to the wings so it is incumbent upon Kai Wagner on the left wing and Ray Gaddis or Olivier Mbaizo on the right to move the ball up the field and start the attack.  Expect a low scoring game; any chances will need to be finished.

Injury Report: Out: Warren Creavalle (m)

Suspended: Alejandro Bedoya (m)

International Duty: Jose Martinez (m)

Key Matchup:  Union Wingbacks vs Revolution Defense

In the past, the Revolution have given the Union wingbacks plenty of space, almost daring him to beat them.  Mbaizo (or possibly Gaddis) and Wagner will need to take advantage of the space and get the attack going.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybyłko

Przybylko has been on a bit of a bad run of late.  No goals in the last six games and just a bit off his game. He is a streaky player and should be due to turn it around and get back into form.  As the Revolution games have been low-scoring affairs, a contribution from Przybylko is huge.  It should also be noted that with Burke back, there is competition at this position.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 New England


Philadelphia Union:  +215

New England:           +104

Draw +290


  1. I’ve been wondering what the Union might look like in a conventional 4-3-3, particularly because of the shortage of midfielders we’ve had to deal with due to injury/international duty. Same backline. Midfield of Aaronson, Montiero, Bedoya with Monteiro as the holder (assuming no Martinez), Santos, Przbylko and Fontana (from left) up top.

    I suppose that runs counter to everything the Union believe in right now, but I’d like to see how that team attacks, assuming they can continue to hold the midfield. Ideally, I’d like to see that midfield trio consist of Montiero, Martinez and Aaronson, with Bedoya getting rotated more often.

  2. No matter how Jim changes up the starting formation, you have to imagine unless he plans on totally running the starters + Wooten into the ground, we will be seeing atleast some of Turner, De Vreis or even Oravec.

  3. Looks like Elliot at CDM. Probably a move made out of necessity, look forward to seeing how he does.

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