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Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution: Match Preview

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The second installment in this 3-game season series sees both teams playing well recently. While the Revs are 6 points ahead of Montreal for 5th place, Union face long odds of getting into the Eastern Conference playoffs. With just 8 matches remaining, Philly needs the win quite badly.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution

Date: Saturday, August 29th

Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: PPL Park

Television: The Comcast Network

New England Revolution visit Chester Saturday night well-rested, having had last week off.  They're in good form as well bringing an unbeaten streak of 4 matches, 3 of which were wins.  Union aren't playing too shabby either.  They're unbeaten in 3 straight, though with just the 1 win last week at Montreal.  It could be counted as 4 straight if we include the Open Cup victory over Chicago Fire.

These two teams met once this season back on April 19th.  The Revs won that affair 2-1, coming from behind courtesy of a goal and assist from 61st-minute sub Teal Bunbury.

What New England Will Look Like

Revolution run the same 4-2-3-1 that Union do.  Lee Nguyen plays the CAM very well between, usually, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn RoweCharlie Davies has been the starting man leading the line, but Juan Agudelo has been getting minutes in that spot as well.  The holding mids got a boost recently, as Jermaine Jones has returned to the lineup, though not 90-minutes-fit up to this point.  Playing just 45 minutes during New England's last match back on August 15th, the bye week likely did him some good.  Scott Caldwell is likely the other starter, with Daigo Kobayashi usually the sub for that position.

The front 6 work quite well in coordinated passing and progression up the pitch.  Nguyen is the fulcrum, but is also a capable goal-scorer.  Either of their forwards cause problems for central defenders with their quickness moving off of the ball.  Their wing players, and especially full back Chris Tierney, are adept at providing width to stretch the defense and avail space.  Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves are a pair that have had issues keeping the ball out of their net, recent form notwithstanding.

What Philadelphia Will Look Like

Sebastien Le Toux deflected a shot by Eric Ayuk to score the lone goal last match against Montreal.  Ayuk was a 76th-minute sub on the right wing for Tranquillo Barnetta, and his energy and athleticism paid off in the volley that led to the match-winner.  Manager Jim Curtin doesn't tinker much with his lineup anymore, so I'd expect the same starting XI.  The one potential change we may see is Vincent Nogueira returning from injury and taking the place of Michael Lahoud.  Nogueira has stated that he likes partnering with Brian Carroll, so "thems is the breaks" for Lahoud, as it's not an indictment of his play.

Andrew Wenger has been out with his concussion, and Maurice Edu has been out with a groin injury.  Expect neither to play, so the trio of Barnetta, Le Toux, and Cristian Maidana behind CJ Sapong will be tasked with targeting the suspect New England center backs.  Brian Sylvestre has been kept out with an injured hand, and Andre Blake took full advantage by keeping Montreal off the score sheet in his season debut.  He'll have to be better this week behind Steven Vitoria and Richie Marquez.  The defense was good last match, but New England is a more offensively dynamic team than the Impact.

What to Expect

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  A loss here, and the Blue-and-Gold faithful will only have the US Open Cup final on September 30th to look forward to.  This will be the match where Union look like a playoff team by scoring two first-half goals to set the tone.  I expect Union's central 4 to be very busy putting out fires, and Blake to be called on to make several saves.  Philly's counter-attack will be their best friend, and see them to 3 points.  Predictiion: Union 3, Revolution 1.