FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A pair of Eastern Conference foes will clash on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park when the New England Revolution visits the Philadelphia Union in Week 2 of the 2014 MLS season.
Kickoff between the Revs (0-1-0, 0 pts.) and Union (0-0-1, 1 pt.) is set for 4 p.m., and once again Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will have the call on Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs aim to bounce back from rough start; New-look Union preps for home opener
Saturday’s trip to PPL Park offers the Revolution a chance to rebound from last weekend’s disappointing 4-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo. The Revs struggled out of the gate against Houston – conceding three goals in the opening 23 minutes – and getting off to a stronger start in Philadelphia has been a point of emphasis this week.
While players and coaches have taken a forward-thinking approach in putting that performance in the rearview mirror, they’ve also used the result as motivation while preparing for another stern test this weekend.
“We’ve talked all week about our reaction and that’s what you hope to get after games like this,” said left back Chris Tierney. “Had we played decent stuff and only lost 1-0, I’m not sure it’d be the same reaction as getting your face rubbed in it a little bit. So it can be a good wakeup call and that’s what we’re using it as. We’ll use it as motivation this weekend.”
Philadelphia will have mixed feelings after opening the season with 1-1 draw at Providence Park. On the face of it, taking a point on the road against the Portland Timbers is a strong result, but it was only a 94th-minute goal from Gaston Fernandez which prevented the Union from claiming victory.
Still, John Hackworth’s revamped side looked cohesive in the opener while integrating newcomers Austin Berry, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana.
“Philly’s a different team,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “They’ve changed their entire midfield, basically, and their top line. So they’ve got some changes. We went over the film and we’ll continue to go over the film and try to learn how to stop them.”
Past Meetings: Upon sixth visit, Revs still searching for first win at PPL Park
Historically the Revs haven’t found much success in the City of Brotherly Love, going 0-3-2 in five visits to PPL Park since the venue opened in 2010. After picking up draws in their first two visits to Philly, the Revs have since suffered three straight losses, falling victim to late winners from Jack McInerney on each occasion.
The Revs did, however, find their form against the Union at Gillette Stadium last season, winning the last two meetings by a combined score of 7-1. That included a 5-1 victory in late August, when Kelyn Rowe earned MLS player of the week honors after striking twice from long range.
“We’re going to have to do our homework on them and make sure we take care of a lot of the threats that they have, especially at home,” said Tierney. “They usually play well there.”
Injury Report: Farrell and Nguyen on the road to recovery; Alston sidelined
Both Andrew Farrell (L tibial stress reaction) and Lee Nguyen (R groin strain) could be available on Saturday after missing last weekend’s season opener in Houston. The duo returned to full training this week and both have been upgraded to questionable on the injury report, although regaining match fitness is still a priority.
Kevin Alston, however, will likely be sidelined after he was forced out of the season opener with a right hamstring strain after just 20 minutes.
Both Conor Casey (L calf strain) and Sheanon Williams (R quad strain) missed the Union’s season opener in Portland last week, but reports indicate that Casey has returned to training and is pushing for a return against the Revolution. Williams, meanwhile, still hadn’t returned to full training as of midweek.
Final Thoughts: After disappointing start to 2014, Revs eager to get back on the field
“Any time that you lose a lot of different fronts of a game – and there wasn’t much to be positive about – the only reaction has to be a positive one,” said Heaps. “There has to be some type of change to the game. I think it will be good for us to get that game sooner rather than later.”