Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs | Round One: Game 2 (Best-of-3)
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
Wednesday, November 8 | 7 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and FS1 / FOX Deportes
English Talent: Chris Wittyngham (Play-by-Play), Lori Lindsey (Analyst)
Spanish Talent: Bruno Vain (Play-by-Play), Andres Agulla (Analyst)
Radio: ROCK 92.9 FM / Sirius XM FC Ch. 157 (English); 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese)
Radio Talent: Brad Feldman (Play-by-Play), Charlie Davies (Analyst)
- Call also available to sync on MLS Season Pass
Click here for a guide on how to sync the home call with Brad Feldman and Charlie Davies on MLS Season Pass
ROUND ONE BEST-OF-THREE SCHEDULE
Game 1 (away): Philadelphia Union 3-1 New England Revolution (Gazdag, Uhre, Harriel; Bou)
Game 2 (home): Wednesday, Nov. 8 | 7 p.m. ET (Gillette Stadium, MLS Season Pass/FS1/FOX Deportes/TSN/RDS)
Game 3 (away – if required): Sunday, Nov. 12 | 3 p.m. ET (Subaru Park, MLS Season Pass)
Secure your seat and help to make homefield advantage count as the Revolution host the Union in the must-win Game 2 of the Round One playoff series. Tickets for the game at Gillette Stadium are available now.
Purchase single-game tickets for Match 2 of the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs first round against Philadelphia Union!
ROUND ONE RULES
Every Round One game will have a winner – no ties, no aggregate score. The first team to win two matches will advance to the Conference Semifinals.
If a match is tied at the end of regulation, no extra time will be played. Teams will participate in kicks from the penalty spot to determine the winner.
GAME 1 RECAP
New England Revolution 1-3 Philadelphia Union
Subaru Park | October 28, 2023
The New England Revolution’s 2023 season rests on the result of Wednesday night’s Audi MLS Cup Playoff visit of the Philadelphia Union. The pair lock horns for the third time in less than three weeks in Game 2 of the Round One best-of-three series, facing off at Gillette Stadium in a must-win match-up for the Revs in their 50th postseason contest. The Union’s 3-1 home success in Game 1 means New England must triumph (either in regulation time or a penalty shootout) in Foxborough to force Game 3. Since Philly hold homefield advantage (having finished the Eastern Conference campaign as the higher seed), the third fixture would be played at Subaru Park. Though the two sides completed the regular season level on points, wins, losses and ties in the East (15-9-10, 55 pts.), the Pennsylvania outfit edged into fourth spot with a superior goal difference (16-12).
Familiar foes, the I-95 rivals have met 14 times since July 2020 and will go head-to-head for the third successive game on Wednesday. The pair notched a win apiece in the 2023 regular season but with a playoff place on the line, this fixture is certainly the most crucial of the campaign. Facing off on Decision Day, the Revs earned a hard-fought 2-1 comeback triumph in Foxborough, thanks to a Gustavo Bou brace, but the Union responded with victory in Round One’s opening fixture, storming into a 3-0 halftime lead, courtesy of a Dániel Gazdag penalty, plus Mikael Uhre and Nathan Harriel strikes. Bou was on target again in the second half but it proved a mere consolation as Philly claimed a 1-0 lead in the playoff series. A win in Game 2 for last year’s MLS Cup runners-up would send Jim Curtin’s men through to the Conference Semifinals.
New England will be hoping to make home comforts count, having lost only once in league action at Gillette Stadium this term (12-1-4), earning a club record 40 points. The Revolution are also unbeaten in regulation time of their last 14 home playoff matches (10-0-4) – a run that stretches back to 2003. In the buildup to this pivotal midweek match, interim head coach Clint Peay and his players have called upon everyone connected with the Revs to show their support and play their part to spur the team on to victory, and keep their playoff hopes alive.
GAME 2 PERMUTATIONS
- If New England win (in regulation time or via a penalty shootout), the Revs will force Game 3 and travel to Philadelphia Union’s Subaru Park for the Round One best-of-three series decider on Sunday, November 12 (3 p.m. ET), to determine who will progress to the Conference Semifinals
- If Philadelphia win (in regulation time or via a penalty shootout), New England’s playoff run will come to an end, while the Union will advance to the Conference Semifinals to face 2023 Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati
Wednesday’s fixture marks the 42nd overall meeting between the two sides, and the third encounter in just 18 days. Though Philadelphia have fared better in the all-time series, the Revolution will take confidence from their Decision Day triumph over the Union at Gillette Stadium on October 21 – a third straight unbeaten match against the Pennsylvania outfit on home soil (2-0-1). Of New England’s six home wins against the Subaru Park side in all competitions, three have seen the hosts bag three or more goals (5-1 in August 2013, 5-3 in July 2016 and 3-0 in July 2017). With six goals in 10 MLS games against Jim Curtin’s men (including three in his last two matches), Gustavo Bou certainly enjoys facing Philly, and will hope to add to his tally in midweek, firing the Revs to a season-saving victory.
Overall Record vs. Philadelphia: 11-22-8
Home Record vs. Philadelphia: 6-6-5
Last meeting at Gillette Stadium: Revs 2, Union 1 (October 21, 2023)
Last meeting at Subaru Park: Union 3, Revs 1 (October 28, 2023)
Revolution captain Carles Gil
In crunch periods, a team needs its leaders and the news of captain Carles Gil’s return has provided the New England Revolution a major boost. The Revs’ 2023 Team MVP, Players’ Player of the Year and MLS All-Star was forced off in Game 1 at Subaru Park, but has shaken off an injury to put himself in contention for the must-win clash in Foxborough. Dubbed ‘the Terminator’ by teammate Mark-Anthony Kaye, Gil is ready to skipper the side at Gillette Stadium, and his leadership will be pivotal as the hosts look to pull together and grind out the victory that keeps them in the playoff picture. Equally crucial is the playmaker’s creative spark. The club’s top scorer this term bagged a career-high 11 goals and crafted 15 assists (the third-most in MLS), tallying the Revs’ most shots (77), shots on target, key passes (88) and dribbles (80). Notching six direct goal involvements in his last nine games, including the game-winning assist for Gustavo Bou in the Decision Day win over Philadelphia, the 30-year-old’s influence is vital, especially in a game with so much at stake – where a single moment of magic could prove the difference.
Union goalkeeper Andre Blake
If the Revolution are to remain in the playoff hunt, they will need to best the Union’s star shot-stopper Andre Blake. The three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was nominated to retain his crown this term, and was named amongst the initial candidates for the Landon Donovan MVP prize. The Jamaican international also earned a Team of the Matchday inclusion for an impressive eight-save showing against the Columbus Crew in October, and made the Save of the Year shortlist for his superb stop to deny D.C. United’s Christian Benteke. The Revs were reminded of the Philly ‘keeper’s quality in Game 1 – as the visitors chased a second goal of the night, Blake produced an excellent save to deny Bobby Wood, somehow palming the forward’s close-range effort off the woodwork. With New England needing a win to stay in postseason contention, the home side will hope to unleash their most potent offensive armory, looking to breach the Philadelphia backline as often as possible in a bid to secure victory in regulation time. Should the game end in a tie, a penalty shootout will determine the Revs’ playoff fate and with the stage set for both goalkeepers to perform a starring role, Blake’s contribution could be the ultimate decider.
New England Revolution
Interim head coach Clint Peay confirmed he has no new injury concerns with captain Carles Gil, defender Henry Kessler, and midfielders Tommy McNamara, Ian Harkes and Damián Rivera all available for selection. Brandon Bye (ACL) and Dylan Borrero (knee) remain sidelined as long-term absentees.
The Union are set to be without center back Jakob Glesnes, who has undergone surgery for a sports hernia, while forward Julián Carranza will face a late fitness test with a hamstring injury. Tai Baribo missed Game 1 with a back problem, and defender Kai Wagner has not traveled to New England having been issued a three-match suspension for violating the league's on-field antidiscrimination policy during Game 1.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Revolution interim head coach Clint Peay on what he expects from Philadelphia tactically on Wednesday:
“It's a game where they can be a little bit more conservative, but I expect at a minimum, they're going to be combative, they're going to hit you on the counter. Whether they play with a back four, back five, who knows? They've done both in two different games, consecutive games, so it's really hard to predict exactly what they'll do, but in terms of the type of team they'll be, we can expect a physical group that is looking to hit you with set pieces, hit you on the counter, and really make it difficult for you to score goals.”
On whether anything surprised New England about Philadelphia in Game 1:
“No, I don't think so. We sort of expected they would be a little bit more aggressive, and when I say that, I think from a formation standpoint, they are probably a more aggressive team when they are in that diamond – 4-4-2 diamond – and we realized that set pieces was an area that they do well at and they hit us there. I don't think anything they really did was a surprise to us. I just think conceding that early penalty in a weird way and then two goals not too far after, it just took a lot of wind out of our sails and made it difficult for us to get back into the game.”
On potential defensive areas his team can take advantage of against Philadelphia:
“First and foremost, it's a collective – they work together collectively really well, so regardless of who's on the field for them, they're going to put in the effort in a collective way, and that is what makes them difficult. Certainly, we feel like if we could be better in those moments that we had early in the [first] game. That’s only going to help us in terms of getting off to a good start and getting a little momentum to hopefully see the game out.”
On handling the 11-day break between matches:
“From a rhythm standpoint, maybe you'd rather play a little closer to after the last game, but it gave us a chance to get healthy with some guys and get some things right hopefully for the game. It’s what we have to deal with, so can't really complain about it too much. You just have to move forward.”
On managing emotions during the game:
“Emotions are part of the game. It's the passion and the fight that guys have for being competitors. Channeling that emotion, that energy, in the right way is always what you're looking for, and if you do that, hopefully that positive channeling of the energy allows you to be good defensively, but also good with the ball and competitive in the right way.”
Revolution midfielder Matt Polster on his reflection of Philadelphia in Game 1:
“They’re a hardnosed team who are going to work for each other. You can tell their front three don’t give up. They’re always pressing and back pressing. That’s their identity. We need to go into this next game and be a little forceful from our side of things, put them under pressure, make good challenges, and be on the front foot. I thought we were good in the first 15 minutes and then we made a mistake, and it was difficult from there to get back into the game. No excuse from that but I thought we were good at the start of the game, I thought we were very aggressive.”
On how the team can take heart from their experience of overcoming adversity throughout the season:
“We’ve dealt with a lot of things internally as a group. [There have been] things we’ve had to look past and deal with, and just focus on the things that are at hand, which is just winning soccer games. We’ve dealt with plenty of adversity as a team and as individuals, and we can definitely take those moments as group, and go into the game against Philly and win. Last time we played them at home we were down 1-0 and we came back and won 2-1. There were moments where we’ve shown we can claw our way back from anything.”
On how the group used the longer break between games to prepare:
“It’s a little bit of a wait but it’s first and foremost [an opportunity] to get our legs back a little bit, recover from a few injuries – Carles [Gil] in particular. We focused on being more aggressive and making tackles in good areas of the field, not getting countered, putting them under pressure, and making good runs in behind. We implemented a lot of different things this week. We were able to work on a lot so we could do that but we’re going to go into this game and be aggressive in the right moments – but also protective. We can’t keep making the same mistakes to go through to the next round.”
On dealing with added pressures of a win-or-go home match:
“It comes from being confident. You don’t want to go into a game nervous in terms of second-guessing yourself. Nerves are good at times but second-guessing yourself will make you make those mistakes. It’s just being confident as a group and individuals, knowing that we’re very capable of playing at a high level – not just individually, but as a group. We’ve shown moments where we string a lot of good passes together, and lots of good actions of play; we’ve shown on the defensive side of things that we do defend well as a group, and we’re all at it. I don’t think we should go in with the nerves – we should go playing with confidence and on the front foot. We really have nothing to lose.”
On being guaranteed a home playoff game through new best-of-three playoff format in Round One:
“It’s a different setup and format. It’s something MLS took into account. I’m not sure how they came to this but it’s benefitted us obviously, and I’m happy that we have a chance to come back and play at home in front of our fans, get a win, then go back to Philly and find a win there.”