After a two-week break from games, the Philadelphia Union will take the field for the first time since being crowned the regular season league champions against a familiar opponent.
The New England Revolution return to Chester after witnessing a franchise celebrate their first ever trophy on Decision Day on November 8. The scouting reports the two teams have already worked up won’t change too much though Revs star Carles Gil is fitter and the team has a win under their belt over Montreal Impact in the play-in game as some motivation.
Whether playing a team for the sixth time benefits the team that’s already won four times or the team that only managed a scoreless draw at home in the five games is hard to say, but if the games so far are any indication fans should probably brace for the unexpected.
Head coach Jim Curtin has been watching along with the rest of us the chaos that has taken place in the early going of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“What’s made us solid this year is we’ve been pretty steady the entire season, we haven’t had huge dips, we haven’t given up a ton of late goals,” Curtin said. “You’ve seen chaos, let’s be honest, let’s call it what it is in almost every game with the exception of one or two. High intensity in elimination games, it’s very difficult. In our league the games do look pretty chaotic, especially at the end.”
As exciting as the chaos can be for neutrals, Curtin prefers not to have their game go that way tonight while his opponent Bruce Arena would likely embrace just that. The Union’s only playoff victory though did come at home against the New York Red Bulls last year and that had its fair share of drama so it might be inevitable that it’s not a repeat of the Union’s dominant win on Decision Day.
The Union this year are in a much different position than they were last. They are no longer punching up but the rest of the league is looking at them at the top, aiming to knock them off their Supporters’ Shield perch. Local and national media has taken notice of the team more than perhaps ever in its history.
“This is a whole new season,” Curtin said. “It’s a whole new experience for young players. It’s a whole new intensity, and it’s a whole new start for what feels like the 12th start of 2020.”
The winner tonight will take on Orlando City in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Projected Starting Lineups
Curtin said Monday that Andre Blake would be “ready to go” and that Jamiro Monteiro passed testing protocols after returning from international duty so expect a first choice lineup.
Philadelphia Union: 4-4-2 - Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jakob Glesnes, Ray Gaddis, Jose Martinez, Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos
New England Revolution (via MLSSoccer.com): 4-2-3-1 - Matt Turner, Dejuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, Tajon Buchanan, Tommy McNamara, Matt Polster, Carles Gil, Teal Bunbury, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa
How to Watch
Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA
When: 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 24
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Streaming: ESPN app, fuboTV*
Radio: Fox Sports The Gambler 1480 AM and 105.3 HD2
Audio Streaming: IHeart Radio App, Fox Sports The Gambler
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