Date: Saturday, September 26th
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Gillette Stadium
Television: The Comcast Network
New England Revolution host Philadelphia Union, in a matchup of two teams in different mindsets. The Revs in good form, having just had an 8-game-unbeaten streak broken in Montreal. 7 of those 8 matches were wins, so that's 7 of their last 9 overall. That includes the August 29th match against Union. Philadelphia, on the other hand, are almost completely eliminated from the MLS Playoffs, so they have their eyes set on Wednesday's US Open Cup final. They breezed past a lethargic-looking Houston Dynamo side this past weekend with the easy 2-0 victory.
The teams have met twice this season. The Revs won 2-1 back on April 19th, and 1-0 on August 29th.
What New England Will Look Like
With two matches having already been played in 2015, this isn't a surprise, but a refresher: Revolution run the same 4-2-3-1 that Union do. Lee Nguyen plays the CAM very well between, usually, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. Charlie Davies has been the starting man leading the line, but Juan Agudelo has been getting minutes in that spot as well. The first real difference from a month ago is that Jermaine Jones has regained his 90-minutes-fitness. He has paired well with Scott Caldwell and they will make it difficult for whomever Union have working the center of the pitch.
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, while shaky at times, have improved their form, and New England's recent results show it. They've only conceded 8 goals during the aforementioned 9-game span.
What Philadelphia Will Look Like
I have absolutely no idea.
Traveling to play on a turf field just 4 days before the Cup final is not ideal. The way the team has been advertising Wednesday's match (yes, I know, they need to sell the tickets) would lead one to believe that this Saturday's match is little more than an afterthought. But, it is still a league match against a conference rival, so maybe we won't see as many reserves as I think.
so minutes and get subbed off. I'd like to think there will be wholesale changes to the starting lineup, so predicting it is a bit of an exercise in futility. Though he returned last match, I'd like to see Maurice Edu nurse his groin injury to ensure that he's healthier for the 30th. CJ Sapong broke his scoring drought last match. If manager Jim Curtin feels like CJ needs to build momentum for Wednesday, then he'll start him. I thought Sapong high pressing was a factor in keeping Houston off-balance last Saturday. I'd prefer that his legs be fresher to wreak havoc on Sporting Kansas City than he trek around the House-That-Brady-Built.
John McCarthy got the clean sheet last week, and has been Union's keeper of choice (and usually due to lack of a choice) during the team's run to the US Open Cup final. Even though Andre Blake has played decently, he'll likely be on the bench to allow McCarthy to keep his game sharp ahead of Wednesday. Steven Vitoria and Richie Marquez have been playing well together, though Mo Edu's return against Dynamo broke them up. I'd rest Edu and keep Vitoria and Marquez playing, especially against an in-form New England side.
What to Expect
The Blue-and-Gold faithful really only have the US Open Cup final on September 30th to look forward to. This will likely be where Union look to exhibit their depth. Except for that they don't really have depth (of quality, that is). I expect New England to summarily decimate the obviously lesser side. Also, please note, I predicted a Union win last time, so some reverse-psychology might be in order. Prediction: Revolution 4, Union 1.