The New England Revolution host the Philadelphia Union Sunday night in a matchup of two teams in a heated competition for a playoff spot. The Revs come into this week after defeating the Chicago Fire 2-0 for their ninth win of the season. This equaled their total from all of last season. Their next victory would put them in double-figures for the first time since 2009 - coincidentally the last season New England qualified for the playoffs. Philadelphia Union embark up I-95 on the heals of a 0-0 draw in Harrison, NJ against New York Red Bulls. Union currently sit with 38 points, five ahead of their weekend opponent.
This is the third and final regular season meeting between the two sides, with each team having won a match previously. Union won 1-0 back on March 16th at PPL Park, and New England defended Gillette Stadium with a 2-0 victory on April 27th. I mention the dates to illustrate that it's been almost four full months since these conference rivals have seen each other. Their last meeting in April left the Union with 11 points, and Revolution with 8. Both clubs have played 17 matches since they last met, with Philadelphia taking 27 points from them, and New England having secured 25 points. The Revs have a game in hand, so they have 10 remaining matches to Union's 9, but time is certainly running short if New England hope to halt their 3-year streak of missing the playoffs. New England got reinforcements in their striker corps recently with the return from injury of Juan Agudelo and the loan acquisition of Charlie Davies. The soon-to-be Stoke City man Agudelo made headlines this past weekend scoring a ridiculously instinctive heal flick volley over Sean Johnson of Chicago. His creative flair makes him a must-watch player for any defense. The Revs have a slight statistical advantage defensively, while the Union score at a slightly better per-game clip. The home team has won both games of the season series, and Sunday's match is in Foxboro. The Union have found the Revolution defense hard to crack. Jose Goncalves has really solidified the back line. Philly has just 1 tally between the 2 matches against New England. Philly must improve its marking in their defensive third, as both goals conceded during the last meeting were the result of a player being left unmarked inside the 18-yard box. Lee Nguyen assisted on the first and netted the second. His goal was a rebound put-back off of a shot that he set up with the through-ball. He will be the key figure for the Union to keep under wraps out of the midfield.
The assignment will likely fall to Brian Carroll, the Union captain.
The player that stood out from the previous matchup offensively for Union was Michael Farfan. Though this season has not been consistently productive for the 2012 MLS All-Star, he was the most dangerous player back in the April fixture.
Be sure to follow the Match Thread at brotherlygame.com and @BrotherlyGame on Twitter for updates throughout the match.