MLS is Back Tournament
Round of 16
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, July 25 | 10:30 p.m. ET
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex | Kissimmee, Fla.
Watch: ESPN2 (English), ESPN Deportes (Spanish)
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English) Channel 157 SiriusXM
Revolution Live presented by Dan O’Brien Automotive Group (July 25, 4 p.m.)
- Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, revolutionsoccer.net
Outside the Booth presented by Dan O’Brien Automotive Group (July 27, 11 a.m.)
- Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, revolutionsoccer.net
New England Revolution
2nd in MLS is Back Group C (1-0-2, 5 pts.)
9th in Eastern Conference (1-1-3, 6 pts.)
Last Result | 0-0 draw vs. Toronto FC
New England wrapped up group play at the MLS is Back Tournament with an unbeaten record (1-0-2), claiming five points in the regular-season standings and only missing out on Group C’s top spot because of tiebreakers. They have their resolute defense to thank for their success as they’ve conceded just one goal in three games, and after scoring just two goals, they’ll be aiming to find the finishing touch in the knockout rounds.
2nd in MLS is Back Group A (2-0-1, 7 pts.)
4th in Eastern Conference (2-1-2, 8 pts.)
Last Result | 1-1 draw vs. Orlando City SC
Philadelphia also went unbeaten in the group stage (2-0-1, 7 pts.) and finished second on tiebreakers, and they also did so with a stingy defense, allowing just two goals in three games. Jim Curtin’s side is something of a rising force in the Eastern Conference – finishing 3rd last season to make the playoffs for the second straight year – and they’re looking to take the next step into the league’s upper echelon in 2020.
While the Revolution’s defensive efforts in Orlando must undoubtedly be attributed to the entire squad, Matt Turner has been the ever-reliable backstop for all 270 minutes. The 26-year-old has been forced to make just nine saves combined in the three matches, but several of those stops have been of the highlight-reel variety.
Turner could be an X-factor particularly if Saturday night’s match is decided by a penalty shootout, as knockout matches at the MLS is Back Tournament will go straight to kicks from the spot if tied after 90 minutes.
Philadelphia’s veteran captain Alejandro Bedoya or star goalkeeper Andre Blake might be the obvious choices here, but the creative force in Philly’s midfield has been Homegrown youngster Brenden Aaronson.
The 19-year-old playmaker has made just 35 appearances at the MLS level after debuting with the Union last year, but he has quickly climbed the ranks. Aaronson delivered assists in each of Philly’s last two group games, and he’ll be a focal point of the Union attack on Saturday.
Carles Gil’s status has been a major topic of discussion ahead of Saturday’s match after the reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year missed the Revs’ group-stage finale against Toronto FC with a foot injury, and head coach Bruce Arena confirmed on Thursday that Gil is “unlikely to play” in the Round of 16 clash with Philadelphia.
There was good news for Andrew Farrell and Wilfried Zahibo, however, as both made their MLS is Back Tournament debuts against Toronto after missing the first two games of the competition.
Union head coach Jim Curtin said at Thursday’s pre-match press conference that his full squad is available for selection on Saturday night, including forward Andrew Wooten, who has yet to feature this season as he’s dealt with a leg injury. Curtin said that Wooten would likely max out at 20-25 minutes.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena
“In any game, you need to finish games the right way. We failed to do that against D.C. United. You have to finish your chances, and we haven’t done that on a consistent basis in group play. So hopefully we get a few breaks in our next game and can put the ball in the back of the next a couple of times.”
New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner
“All credit goes to the guys in front of me, really. We’ve really done a good job of limiting other teams’ chances, and that doesn’t just come from me, it comes from the guys in front. You’ve seen we’ve had four different center backs play so far in this tournament, and every single one has gone out there and done a really great job. We’ve rotated guys in at left back – DeJuan [Jones] and Alex [Büttner] rotating in and out at left back. Obviously, can’t talk enough about the defensive work that Scotty [Scott Caldwell] and Kelyn [Rowe] do in the midfield. So it’s been a total team commitment to defending. It’s something that we know if we do well, we’ll be in position to get good results in games.”
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin
“New England had a really good team last year and Bruce [Arena] has really improved it. They’ve added some big pieces with [Gustavo] Bou coming on, with [Adam] Buksa, so they’ve added some really talented attacking pieces. The roster is a very strong one and they’ve played well in this competition. … It makes for a great matchup. Two teams that attack and defend really well.”
Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya
“We have yet to have a proper, straight, 90-minute, great performance. It’s tough in this climate. I think everybody starts dying around the 65th minute. But I don’t get caught up too much in that stuff. What I have said in the past is that when I first came to the club, I wanted it to be more ambitious. I’m an ambitious person, and I was up for the challenge to get more respect for the club. Because I don’t think in years past anybody’s talked about the Union as a good, fun team to watch, and I think we certainly are that now.”