Yep, again. The Philadelphia Union have one more match versus the Revs, but it’s not to advance in a mid-season tournament or earn points in the standings. This one is an important step toward playing in what would be the team’s first ever MLS Cup final.
There is no way to underestimate the opponent, despite the fact that the Union is objectively better than the Revs. A deflected ball or a bad pass could keep them from opening the playoffs with a victory.
The Union have the upper hand not just this season with four wins and a draw, but also historically with an all-time record of 17-6-6. One of the more memorable Union wins in the rivalry came on May 4, 2019 when the blue and gold scored six times and conceded just once.
While they lost to the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back’s semifinal in the bubble in Orlando, the Union starts the postseason as the team boasting the league’s best record and has their first trophy with a chance for a double. The Revolution finished the season in eighth place and showed a good performance through the season. The end of the last season they were in a deep crisis when Bruce Arena turned things around. They were able to squeeze out a 2-1 result in the Eastern Conference play-in round against the Montreal Impact on Friday night and are seeing star attackers Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou — who scored both goals — starting to click.
Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner is one of the best keepers in the league but he lost out to Andre Blake as the best in the MLS is Back Tournament and again for MLS of Goalkeeper of the Year Award. Blake has the edge even coming back from an injury but both keepers will be crucial to their teams.
The Philadelphia Union’s defense was statistically the best back line in MLS this season, conceding the fewest goals — 20 in 23 games. The Revolution conceded just five more times over the span of 23 games. They are anchored by veteran Andrew Farrell and rookie Henry Kessler, who have made a formidable pairing in front of Turner and are not easy to break down.
The Union has a total advantage in the midfield with the 4-4-2 diamond formation. They have four players in the middle of the field in comparison to the Revs’ two midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 formation. We could see this in the last five matches versus the Revs. Philly had full control in the midfield area in the diamond. The Union’s midfielders have been better than the Revs in their previous meetings but the playoff atmosphere of the game will judge both teams. The Union will take the possession and deep pressing and the Revs will play long balls.
The 4-2-3-1 formation is not a good option to resist the 4-4-2 diamond formation. As an example from the Euro 2012 semifinals, Italy played easily with the diamond formation against Germany and won. New England Revolution does have good players in the middle, Matt Polster, Tommy McNamara play well together and can break down an attack but they’ll have their hands full against the Union.
The Revs play very well through the wings with Carles Gil, Tajon Buchanan, Gustavo Bou and Teal Bunbury always around the flanks to confuse, baffle and astonish opponents. Against Montreal Impact, Carles Gil changed position and moved from the right side to the left side and scored a beautiful goal. Gustavo Bou usually plays a false 10 and scored 5 goals this season. The best scorer of the team is Teal Bunbury with eight goals in the season.
With the 4-4-2 diamond formation the Union can use more than seven players and two center forwards simultaneously through any offense movement. Overall, the New Engalnd Revolution have the advantage of quantity players because in fact they have four players in the attack third and plus right/left winger Tajon Buchanan, who plays as a right defender, in total five players versus four the Union’s defenders. They can create some problems.
This game isn’t anything like the previous meetings between the two teams because of how much is on the line. It will be especially tough for the Union to beat the Revs for a fifth time but the good news is if they do we won’t have to see the Revs play again until 2021.