Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New England Revolution

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union vs New England Revolution

What: MLS Regular Season Matchday

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Saturday, May 20, 7:30 PM (Kick-off 7:39 PM)

Watch: Apple TV MLS Season Pass

Whistle: TBA

Historically, the Union have dominated New England.

Since Bruce Arena’s arrival in Boston, however, the scales have been much more even, with both teams recording important victories, home and away, against the other and a fair number of draws as well. This season, while the teams are not separated by much statistically, one would be hard-pressed to argue that the Union are the better side. New England is currently second in the Eastern Conference, with more goals scored than the Union, fewer allowed, more wins, fewer losses . . . you get the picture. Even if the Union’s league form has been improving incrementally of late, the Revs are coming in to Chester with the better overall résumé.

They’ll also be fresher: with their Champions League commitments, the Union have played eight more games than the Revs so far in 2023. New England also did not have a midweek game to tire them out.

Scouting report: New England

All of that said, New England does come into this game off a loss, 2–1 away to Miami. The Revs were and are irked that a goal by their young gun Noel Buck was called off for offsides in the first half of that game, but New England managed to equalize later only to then give up the game-winner. As a result, it’s not as if the call, right or wrong, decided the match.

When speaking of the Revolution, it really comes down to one man: Carles Gil. When healthy, Gil has consistently been one of the best attacking players in MLS. So, task one is stopping him. Gil is supported offensively by New England’s flying fullbacks, Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones, and RSL-import Bobby Wood at striker. Buck and MLS veteran Matt Polster hold down the middle in front of the defense, which is led by Djordje Petrovic, the only other goalkeeper in MLS that can hang with Andre Blake.

Injury report: OUT: Dylan Borrero (left knee), Gustavo Bou (left leg), Nacho Gil (right leg), Henry Kessler (right hamstring), Maciel (left Achilles), Tommy McNamara (left leg)

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

What to say about the Union, following their dreary draw at home to DC United on Wednesday?

Perhaps the most accurate description of the team is that they are not yet what they will be. While being cast out of two cup competitions in the span of a week or ten days, things looked down. But three league wins in a row seemed to herald a new dawn. And yet, coming home after a long road trip, the Union looked tired, both mentally and physically, against an improved DC side out to show that last year’s historic humbling at Philly’s hand was gone and forgotten.

After the match, Kai Wagner questioned the effort put forth by the team, suggesting they thought being back at home was enough to get a win or that they were simply too worn out to bring the requisite drive. For better or worse, there will be no rest for the weary – and an improved level of effort is the bare minimum necessary to give New England a game on Saturday.

Only fit enough for late-game cameos on Wednesday, there is hope that both Jose Martinez and Mikael Uhre will be able to play from the start. That’s good because, without Jack McGlynn available (away at the U-20 World Cup with Quinn Sullivan and Brandan Craig), the Union need as many offensive contributors on the field as possible. While the Boys in Blue generated a good number of shots against DC, nearly all were wayward.

An additional question is whether the Union will come out in their 4-4-2 diamond or in a three-CB formation, now that Damion Lowe is returned from a brief trip home to Jamaica to attend to a family issue. The switch seemed to invigorate the Union against Colorado.

The Union could do with some vigor.

Injury report: QUESTIONABLE: Jose Martinez (hamstring), Mikael Uhre (knee)

Match-up to watch: Martinez vs Gil

If Jose has a good game, then Gil will not, by definition. If Gil is causing Jose problems, the Union are in for a long, testing night.

Players to watch: the Union strikers

Petrovic is an excellent keeper. The Union strikers will need to be clinical to get past him. They haven’t been very clinical so far. This would be a great time to change that.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 2–1 New England Revolution

Games between these teams are rarely shoot-outs. Philly brings the energy at the start and scrambles an ugly goal to take the lead before weathering a lot of New England pressure. Then, the U score another on a textbook counter early in the second half. Rather than slam the door shut though, the Union allow New England to get on the board in the 75th and the Union hold on, biting their nails all the while.

Win or lose, Bruce Arena will be angry about something afterward.


  1. Why does Arena always look like he has something sharp jammed up his rear end?

  2. “Win or lose, Bruce Arena will be angry about something afterward.”
    This made me lol.
    I agree with the 2-1 Union victory prediction. Let’s hope the Union surprise us and win much bugger. Let’s hope the strikers light up this weekend.

  3. Unfortunately, I think the scouting report should read, “Perhaps the most accurate description of the team is that they are not yet what WE HOPE they will be.”

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      Yeah, I didn’t mean so much that they are definitely going to improve. Rather, that it’s unclear what this team is yet. They might get better over the summer—they’ve done that before—but the results so far are so mixed that it’s hard to predict.

  4. Wonderful… but so far, right up till Wed night, we’ve seen no sign of last year’s squad, playing down to the lowest levels of the Eastern Conference.

    Glesnes did a terrific job on Benteike, and will also on Bobby Wood… and yeah, Martinez hopefully will rattle Gil, and not the reverse.

    But for whatever reason, unless something happened in the last 2 nights, the offense will again struggle with poor passing and missed goal scoring opportunities… NO U-20’s available… and ZERO goals.

    2-0 NER… and we again give away points at home.


  5. It’s really remarkable that the Union has played eight more games than New England. And some of those were for more than 90 minutes. Hope they can stay on their feet and just do a better job than we’ve seen of late. Someone’s gotta put a boot up an ass.

  6. Eric Boyle says:

    Most accurate prediction in the article; Arena will be mad about something! We can only hope that will be something the Union did right!

  7. Ok, Team…is anyone aware of a way to watch a game, that’s streamed through (cr)AppleTV, the following day or do I only have highlights available?

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      If you have an Apple TV MLS subscription you can watch it anytime you want. Depending on the device you use, you may have to scroll down to the very bottom of the game page or click/tap and hold on the watch button for a few seconds to get the option. That design was really frustrating the first few weeks but is now resolved on my devices. Maybe not for all of them though.

  8. I think it’s a good pt that Union are searching for chemistry and who will step up. I wonder if they see things in training that have not yet shown in games as to some of the new pieces. I trust them and will be patient to see what the team becomes. Not easy with McGlynn away as he has been a very nice player in the evolving chemistry.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Lukasz Szpala is on the whistle. Seaching his name on PSP shows he reffed the opening game this season against Columbus, the 4-1 win against Atlanta last September, and the 1-1 draw against Montreal a year ago April.

  10. Nice job by the team with no Bedoya or McGlynn. Chris Donovan looked good as late sub – sweet assist. Like Lowe a lot.

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