Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New England Revolution

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 (Final Week)

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When:  November 8, 2020 at 3:30 PM (Eastern)

Watch: ABC

Whistle: Referee: Drew Fischer, Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Brian Dunn, 4th Official: Adam Kilpatrick. VAR: Edvin Jurisevic 

We were all hoping this last game would be a meaningless one, where the Union would have already won the Supporters’ Shield and secured their seeding for the playoffs. Sit back, feet up, crack open a cold one and casually watch as starting midfielder Cole Turner feeds the ball to starting forward Michee Ngalina.  

Instead, the Union have to bring their A-game on Sunday against New England in the friendly confines of Subaru Park, where the Union have eight wins in as many games this season. A Union win will clinch the Supporter’s Shield and give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. So, no pressure.

Union fans been waiting for this a long time – and lord knows we’ve paid some dues.

The Union get top billing on ABC this Decision Day, as the entire Eastern Conference plays simultaneous matches at 3:30 p.m. (the Western Conference teams play at 6:30).  This is the big game in the city this weekend. There’s no Eagles in the bars at night.  There’s Revolution in the air.

Sunday will be the fifth time the Union and the New England Revolution play each other this season.  They have met three times already in league play and once in the MLS is Back Tournament; the Union earned three wins and a draw in those low scoring affairs, with the last one a 2-1 victory for Philadelphia. Both teams will have the “luxury” of a full week’s rest following their matches last Sunday.

Scouting Report: New England

The Revolution pulled off a comeback win vs. the somewhat improved DC United team last Sunday following a run of two losses and a tie in their previous three matches. They sit in sixth place having secured a playoff berth for the second consecutive season. A win or draw will clinch them sixth place and potentially avoid the play-in round reserved for the seventh through tenth seeds.

Against DC United, for the first time since mid-July, the Revolution had all three of their designated players — Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa — healthy.

Striker Adam Buska has scored 6 goals this year. The team’s best player, attacking midfielder Carles Gil (pronounced Heel) started for the first time last week after being injured for much of the season. Gil is a creative midfielder and instrumental to the Revolution’s attack setting the table for forwards Gustave Bou and Adam Buska.  Playmaker Lee Nguyen will spell Gil and leading scorer Teal Bunbury (8 goals) may start in place of Bou.

New England has kept their tactics consistent. They spread the field wide, 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 has a solid 23 goals-against this season (the Union have 20). 

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

Scouting report: Union

The Union are coming off a disappointing loss at Columbus where they dominated the game, but lost on the scoreboard.  The injury to goalkeeper Andre Blake the previous week certainly played a role in the loss. But this match is in Subaru Park, where Philadelphia has a perfect record this season with 22 goals scored and only 4 goals against.

The return of Jose Martinez after missing games due to COVID-19 will solidify the midfield (no disrespect to Jack Elliot) and it is expected that Ray Gaddis will be available too. Manager Jim Curtin has not announced whether Joe Bendik will return as the starting goalkeeper or Matt Freese will step in.  In addition to the Revolution DPs mentioned above, the Union will need to pay attention to Tajon Buchanan.  He almostsingle handedly beat the Union the last time they met, scoring a goal and having a second called back for offsides (barely).

If history is any guide, New England will force the ball to the wings so it is incumbent upon Kai Wagner on the left wing and Ray Gaddis on on the right to move the ball up the field and start the attack.  An appearance by Anthony Fontana will be welcome as he has proven to be a scoring machine against New England.  

Injury Report: Out: Andre Blake (gk); Matt Real (d)

Suspended: None

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.  Gaddis and Wagner will need to take advantage of the space and get the attack going.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybyłko

And again… Przybylko has not scored in the run of play for quite some time. He is a streaky scorer and is due to turn it around and get back into form – just keep on keepin’ on.  He has played well otherwise, but as a striker you need to, well, score goals. As the Revolution games have been low scoring affairs, a contribution from Przybylko is a huge plus and having him in form for the playoffs is a necessity.  

Prediction:  Philadelphia 3-1 New England

Philly is on a roll. We just won the election for Joe Biden. It’s sunny and 70 degrees in November. The Union are going to the Concacaf Champions League and now, are playing for the Supporter’s Shield. Worries that the Union can’t win the big one were partially allayed following the recent big win against Toronto. We can feel confident that this team will prevail… but the past is close behind, but regardless of the outcome, we are tangled up in blue.

Moneyline: 

Philadelphia Union:  +100

New England:           +230

Draw +25

For you degenerate gamblers… seems the Union should be in negative territory.

One Comment

  1. Given the MLS playoff schedule just came out, the Union’s first playoff game would be Tuesday night, the 24th. The two play in games would be Friday night, the 20th and the Union would play the winner of one of those games.

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