Preview | Decision Day showdown in top-four battle as regular season wraps up against Philly


MLS Regular Season | Match #34
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, October 21 | 6 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.

English Talent: Steve Cangialosi (Play-by-Play), Danny Higginbotham (Analyst) 
Spanish Talent: Pablo Ramirez (Play-by-Play), Carlos Ruiz (Analyst) 
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English); 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese) 
Radio Talent: Brad Feldman (Play-by-Play), Charlie Davies (Analyst)
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New England Revolution
5th in Eastern Conference (14-9-10, 52 pts.)
Last Result | 3-2 loss at Nashville SC

The New England Revolution face a crunch clash on MLS Decision Day, as the battle for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference draws to its thrilling finale. The Revs welcome the Philadelphia Union to Gillette Stadium to close the 2023 MLS regular season, needing three points to stand any chance of finishing in the top four and therefore securing homefield advantage in Round One of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs (as well as a berth in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup). The Revolution currently sit in fifth place – just three points behind third-place Philly and two behind the Columbus Crew – and would climb the table with either: a win if the Crew lose to CF Montréal, or a three-goal triumph over the Union. Victory would also prove a welcome boost ahead of the postseason tournament with New England having suffered three successive defeats, and two consecutive 3-2 reverses. Tomás Chancalay bagged a brace last time out against Nashville SC, but the Boys in Gold had already raced into a 3-0 halftime lead and were able to see the game out in Tennessee. With all matches in the East kicking off simultaneously at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday night, and plenty left to play for with playoff matchups also to be confirmed, it’s sure to be an exciting conclusion to the campaign. Should teams end the regular season tied on points in the table, tiebreakers will be implemented to determine seeding and playoff qualification.


New England will clinch a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference if:

  • New England win vs. Philadelphia AND Columbus lose vs. Montréal or…
  • New England win by three or more goals vs. Philadelphia or…
  • New England win vs. Philadelphia AND Columbus draw vs. Montréal AND New England advantage in tiebreakers over Columbus

Philadelphia Union
3rd in Eastern Conference (15-8-10, 55 pts.) 
Last Result | 0-0 draw vs. Nashville SC

The Philadelphia Union head into Decision Day riding an eight-game unbeaten run, last tasting defeat in late August. However, six of their last seven games have been tied, including their most recent fixture: a goalless stalemate against Nashville two weeks ago. Philly had drawn five straight games before edging out Atlanta United 3-2 earlier this month, but a run of one defeat in their last 12 games has lifted them into third in the Eastern Conference. Jim Curtin’s men cannot climb higher in the table this weekend but three points at Gillette Stadium would cement a third-place finish, while a draw would also secure their top-four status. The Pennsylvania side have punched their playoff ticket for the sixth straight season and last year’s MLS Cup runners-up will be hoping to go one better this term, after falling to a dramatic penalty shootout defeat to LAFC in the six-goal 2022 showpiece. This year, Philadelphia have already embarked on strong runs in the Concacaf Champions Cup and Leagues Cup, reaching the semifinal stage in both tournaments. They are the third-highest scorers in the East (fourth in MLS – level with New England with 56 goals) and have conceded the East’s third-fewest goals (39). Losing just once at Subaru Park in 2023, Saturday’s visitors are also desperate to claim homefield advantage in the playoffs.


This weekend’s fixture marks the 40th meeting between the two sides, with Philadelphia having fared better in the series overall. New England have tallied 10 wins and eight draws in total, and are unbeaten in 10 of 16 encounters in Foxborough, including the Union’s most recent visit to Gillette Stadium: a 1-1 draw in May 2022. Though winless in the last three clashes, the Revolution had triumphed in three of the previous four, and will be looking to put memories of May’s 3-0 defeat in this year’s reverse fixture fully behind them by securing a top-four place.

Overall Record vs. Philadelphia: 10-21-8
Home Record vs. Philadelphia: 5-6-5

Last meeting at Gillette Stadium: Revs 1, Union 1 (May 28, 2022)
Last meeting at Subaru Park: Union 3, Revs 0 (May 20, 2023)


Revolution forward Gustavo Bou
Back in the starting XI against Nashville for the first time since mid-July in MLS play, the forward marked the occasion with an excellent assist, whipping a teasing delivery into Chancalay’s path for his fellow Argentine to volley home and spark a second-half fightback. His fourth tee-up of the season, Bou will hope to have rekindled his creative spark in the nick of time for Saturday’s Decision Day clash (especially with New England coming up against Philly goalkeeper and MLS MVP nominee Andre Blake) and the Revs’ playoff challenge. Tallying a game-high five chances created in Tennessee, he matched a season-best, and will be keen to reignite his scoring touch as soon as possible, returning to the form that saw the 33-year-old craft 10 goal involvements in nine matches before suffering a leg injury during Leagues Cup. The club’s 2022 Golden Boot winner and all-time fifth-highest goalscorer, Bou has notched nine goal involvements in 18 league games this term. Surpassing 7,500 MLS minutes earlier this month, he has been gradually building up his fitness on his return to action, and will be pushing to earn his 100th league appearance this weekend.

Union midfielder Dániel Gazdag
Bagging a brace in the reverse fixture against New England in May – marking four goal involvements in four appearances against the Revolution – Gazdag will be a familiar name for the Revs backline, and the Hungarian will once again be one to watch in Saturday’s showdown. Topping his side's goalscoring charts again this term, last season’s MLS Golden Boot runner-up has enjoyed another fruitful campaign, netting 21 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions for the Union. With 14 goals and 11 assists in regular season play – one goal more than Philly teammate and MLS MVP nominee Julián Carranza – he has not proven as lethal in front of goal as in his previous season (22 goals and 10 assists) but has remained a key figure, tallying 25 goal involvements in 31 games to power his side to third place in the East. On the scoresheet in the 3-2 win over Atlanta United earlier this month, he netted a sensational overhead kick and crafted an assist to earn a fourth inclusion on the MLS Team of the Matchday, and the 2022 MLS Best XI star will hope to play another key role as Philadelphia look to emulate last season’s playoff run.


New England Revolution
Goalkeeper Jacob Jackson is set to make his home MLS debut, having earned his first senior appearance in last weekend’s trip to Nashville. DeJuan Jones (USMNT), Noel Buck (England Under-19s), Esmir Bajraktarevic (U.S. Olympic Team) and Christian Makoun (Venezuela) are also back in contention after missing the trip to Tennessee for international duty, but Jack Panayotou is away with the United States U-22s at the 2023 Pan American Games. Andrew Farrell could return from a leg problem, but Ian Harkes remains unavailable with a head injury. Damián Rivera (knee) is also still sidelined, and Brandon Bye (ACL) and Dylan Borrero (knee) are long-term absentees.

Philadelphia Union
Jose Martinez is suspended for Saturday’s game due to yellow card accumulation. The Union also list four players as questionable for the clash: Jesús Bueno and Matt Real with ankle knocks, and Olivier Mbaizo and Tai Baribo with hamstring problems.


Revolution interim head coach Clint Peay on how he feels about the team entering Decision Day:
“Very good. We still have a lot to play for. It’s an important match for us, as it relates to how we finish in the standings. We want to make sure we can get the three points and secure the best position possible for the playoffs. If things really go our way,  we can end up in third and get homefield advantage, so that’s our objective, and that’s going to be our focus going into the match. I know things have been challenging and the results haven’t come, but it's an opportunity when you have playoffs to reinvent yourself, and get a second wind. We're still committed to that idea of trying to win an MLS Cup.”

On the keys to an improved performance and the significance of ending the regular season on a positive result:
“First and foremost, we have to be sound defensively – we have to show that we can limit opportunities in transition, limit opportunities on set pieces, and keep a clean sheet. You have to give yourself a chance to be able to win a game, and by not conceding, that allows you to do that. In every game, we score goals. We feel confident that we can score goals. We certainly would always like to create more chances and more clear-cut goalscoring chances in the game, so we'll continue to work on that, but for us right now, it's [about] how to keep a clean sheet – give yourself a chance.

“For us right now, a win is important but more importantly is the performance – being in a game, not conceding easy goals, being hard to play against – and that will go further. It’s critical but also just knowing that we are playing a full 90 minutes, and not 45 minutes – putting a full game together on both sides of the ball where we are hard to play against and pose challenges for the opponent. Results are funny in soccer – you never know: you can play the best game ever and lose somehow, so we want to walk away feeling right about what we did on the field, and you hope that that will get you a result. That's where we are right now. Obviously, we all want to win the game, but walking away from the game feeling like you are a difficult team to play against on the night … It’s just the feeling – you get a result, and you’re at home, you go into the playoffs feeling a lot better about yourself.”

On the goalkeeper position with Jacob Jackson having made his MLS debut against Nashville: 
“We’ll continue with Jacob Jackson on the weekend. I think he’s done well. For every position it’s a battle, and Jacob has earned the right to be back on the field. It's always going to be a decision made amongst the staff to what we feel is the right choice.”

Revolution defender Henry Kessler on the team’s mindset heading into Saturday’s match:
“We’re still positive, the vibe is still good. Obviously, we never want to lose and we’ve had a few losses recently. The day after that, it doesn’t feel good in the locker room; after the game it doesn’t feel good – but we’re still positive because we know what we’re capable of. It just takes one [game] – this weekend, hopefully we’ll get three points and carry that momentum into the playoffs.”

On how he feels physically and how much he is looking forward to playing at Gillette Stadium again:
“I’m getting closer and closer. I’m not quite there yet – I feel like I’m still not 100 percent, still not back to what I was – but I’m still doing well and progressing each and every day. It’s going to be great [playing at Gillette]. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since I’ve played in front of our fans, so I’m really looking forward to it. I love playing at Gillette. I think it’s great to be in our own home atmosphere. We have a chance to – if Columbus loses – to get a home playoff game. I know with the new playoff format [best-of-three in Round One] we’ll get [one home game] regardless, but to get homefield advantage … we’re trying to do that.”

On what the Revolution expect from the Philadelphia Union:
“[Philadelphia plays] a 4-4-2 diamond. They’ve been playing that diamond, that formation for a long time. Oftentimes, there are spaces out wide because they make it really condensed in the middle. They’ve got good attacking players. They’ll play two up top and try to challenge us that way, so that’s a general overview of Philadelphia.”

On whether he has seen improvements over the team’s recent performances: 
“I feel like we’re close. Those were one-goal games but I feel like the way we’ve started the games have not been well – either going down by two or three goals. You can’t really win like that, so while they have been one-goal losses, we need to start better – try to get leads in these games, and try to hold on to those leads. That being said, they’ve all been [against] playoff teams, teams that are right around us in the standings. They’re good teams but we would like to start better.”

Revolution midfielder Ema Boateng on the importance of a top-four finish:
“I feel like the last few games haven't gone our way, so we're working hard and trying to right the ship right before the playoffs. These games are very important for us. We can only care about ourselves at this point. Every team playing this weekend wants to get a result, so the chips will fall where they fall, and we can only control what we can control and that's preparing and getting ready for Philadelphia and getting three points on Saturday.”

On what a win would do for morale and momentum ahead of the postseason:
“We feel like we've had some good moments in games – a lot of good moments – and then there have been times where we haven't been as strong as a team, and did get broken down and [have] given up goals. The point in this game is just: get three points, play well, correct our mistakes, and go into the playoffs confident.”

On the things that need the most improvement:
“We can see a lot of the things that we're working on showing up in the games but then also there's some mistakes – a few common mistakes – that keep happening. Every day, it's just working hard, trying to correct the mistakes, and keep building on it but we can see some positives in the videos. The biggest thing is to defend better as a group. We've given up some goals where teams have exploited us behind or maybe you can look at the times that we given up goals just at the end of halves or late in games. That's the biggest thing we want to correct right now is to try to be strong as a team when we're defending. Offensively, we can create chances so just defend first, be compact as a group, and then attack when we get the opportunity.”

Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara on where the team can improve ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale:
“It's very important before the playoffs that we have this one really good collective performance for 90 minutes of everybody contributing. We need to play collectively; we need to play with intelligence, and we need to play with effort. I think just having the competitiveness and the willingness to do everything possible to win games will serve us well into this weekend and into the playoffs, if we can get that back into our group.

“We very clearly have the talent to do something – you've seen that with the first two-thirds of the season – but this weekend's game is very important at home in front of our fans to collectively get belief back into the group and just have a performance of: 'This is who we are, this is how we're going to be: we're going to be really tough to beat and we're going to do everything to try to win games.’ Then on top of that, we have the special players that can go and win those games.”

On the team’s confidence:
“It's been difficult. There have been a lot of different things going on but at the end of the day, things that we can control and be better at is just our desire to win, and then the mentality we have and our focus and concentration in games. We're capable of controlling that individually and collectively.”

On whether the team feels they have something to prove:
“I don't think we're so much concerned about how other people perceive us. If they perceive us as if they are ever counting us out or whatever, we're more concerned with ourselves. We're really frustrated and disappointed in ourselves and the way things have been going on the last however many weeks, so we're more focused on that internally and how can we get back to our best, how can we get back to being competitive in games, and not conceding early and kind of letting the game run away from us.”

Revolution forward Gustavo Bou on how he feels physically and the team’s recent performances: 
“I’m really improving and we’re improving. It’s been a long time for me without playing and I can feel that when it’s time to have rhythm in games. Luckily, in the last game, I played all 90 minutes and that served me well because it had been a while. I was a little tired and missing a little rhythm, but I’m feeling better. Hopefully, I can build on that in this next game. Hopefully my support is always positive for the team. We’re going through some changes. The last few games, we haven’t had the results we’re trying to get. We’re trying our best for positive results. This team’s mentality is always to win and improve but sadly, we haven’t gotten three points in recent games. Those are things that we need to improve ahead of this last [regular season] game at home.”

On the importance of the entire team defending together: 
“For all forwards, it’s important to score because it gives forwards confidence, and it gives confidence to the entire team. If we’re struggling to defend, it’s not just on defenders but it’s on the whole team. We know that when we have to score, we have help from defenders and midfielders – it’s a team. The last few games, the starts have been a little sleepy in the early minutes. Those are the things that we need to improve on ahead of this last game and the playoffs.”