Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs | Round One: Game 1 (Best-of-3)
New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union
Saturday, October 28 | 5 p.m. ET
Subaru Park | Chester, Pennsylvania
Watch: FREE on Apple TV
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)
ROUND ONE BEST-OF-THREE SCHEDULE
Game 1 (away): Saturday, Oct. 28 | 5 pm ET (Subaru Park, FREE on Apple TV)
Game 2 (home): Wednesday, Nov. 8 | 7 pm ET (Gillette Stadium, MLS Season Pass/FS1/FOX Deportes/TSN/RDS)
Game 3 (away – if required): Sunday, Nov. 12 | 3 pm ET (Subaru Park, MLS Season Pass)
Secure your seat and help to make homefield advantage count as the Revolution host the Union in Game 2 of the Round One playoff series. Tickets for the game at Gillette Stadium are available now.
Save up to 34% off box office prices with the Revolution Pay-as-we-Play playoff package, which guarantees the same great seat to every home playoff match!
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.
New England Revolution
5th in Eastern Conference (15-9-10, 55 pts.)
Last Result | 2-1 win vs. Philadelphia Union
The New England Revolution’s Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoff journey begins with a best-of-three knockout series against familiar foe Philadelphia Union. The Revs’ Decision Day opponents finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, pipping New England to a top-four spot with a superior goal difference (16-12) to claim homefield advantage in Round One of the postseason tournament. The Revolution will travel to Subaru Park in Game 1 and Game 3 (if a third fixture is required), hosting Jim Curtin’s men at Gillette Stadium in Game 2 (Wednesday, November 8 at 7 p.m. ET). The first team to claim two wins in the series will progress to the Conference Semifinals. The Revs head into the clash buoyed by last weekend’s comeback win over the Union with Gustavo Bou bagging a brace in Foxborough. The Argentine netted from the penalty spot before firing the hosts into the lead with a powerful near-post drive, after Julián Carranza had drawn first blood for the visitors. The triumph yielded a welcome return to winning ways for New England, snapping a three-game winless streak to restore confidence ahead of the playoffs.
4th in Eastern Conference (15-9-10, 55 pts.)
Last Result | 2-1 loss at New England Revolution
Though the Union head into this weekend’s opening Round One clash on the back of defeat to the Revolution, Jim Curtin’s men achieved their ultimate goal on Decision Day – to remain in the top four, ensuring Game 1 (and Game 3 if needed) will take place on home soil at Subaru Park. Like the Revs, the Pennsylvania side have lost only once on their own patch in league action in 2023, and will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s reverse with a strong performance in front of their own fans to gain the early advantage in the best-of-three series. Last season’s MLS Cup runners-up are hoping to go one better this year and had entered the trip to Foxborough on an eight-game unbeaten run, though they had drawn six of their previous seven games. While the loss at Gillette Stadium marked only their second defeat in their last 13 matches, they had also won only one of their last eight. Having reached the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions Cup as well as the Leagues Cup third-place playoff, the Union have contested near 50 games this year, finishing the Eastern Conference campaign as the fourth-highest scorers (one goal behind New England with 57) and with the third-meanest defense (41).
The second meeting between the two sides in seven days, this weekend’s fixture marks the 41st encounter in the all-time series, and the 14th since July 2020. New England are unbeaten in 19 of the 40 clashes, winning 11 (including last Saturday’s Decision Day matchup at Gillette Stadium). The two sides picked up a win apiece in this year’s regular season series.
The Revs last triumphed in Pennsylvania in the 2021 Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign, thanks to a solitary Matt Polster strike, and defeated the Union on their own turf in the last playoff battle, advancing to the Conference Semifinals in November 2020, courtesy of a 2-0 win with Adam Buksa and Tajon Buchanan on the scoresheet. Without a victory on the road since early May, the Revolution will need to put up a strong showing at Subaru Park, where Philadelphia stand undefeated in all bar one league game this term.
Overall Record vs. Philadelphia: 11-21-8
Away Record vs. Philadelphia: 5-14-3
Last meeting at Gillette Stadium: Revs 2, Union 1 (October 21, 2023)
Last meeting at Subaru Park: Union 3, Revs 0 (May 20, 2023)
Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara
Restored to the Revs' starting XI for the first time in more than a year in the Decision Day visit of Philly, McNamara has had to be patient for his chance to shine this term. Having suffered an injury in preseason, the midfielder was sidelined until August but had to wait until September to step out for his first minutes from the bench, after building up his fitness with Revolution II in MLS NEXT Pro. Through October, he has gradually increased his game time, completing the full second half in Nashville before earning his first start of 2023 against the Union this past weekend. While it has proven a frustrating campaign on a personal level, the 32-year-old spoke of his desire to make an impact in New England’s playoff push, and could be finding his feet just in time to do so. Versatile, intelligent and driven, he adds another option in midfield with the tenacity and grit needed in playoff competition. Leading the club charts for successful tackles last season, he marked his return to the starting XI against Philly on Saturday with a crucial interception to ignite the Revs’ counterattack for Bou’s game-winning goal. Also providing an attacking threat, he notched nine goal involvements in 2022 (four goals, five assists), tallying the club’s fifth-highest goalscoring attempts in MLS play. Earning praise from his peers for his Decision Day display, ‘TMac’ will be hoping to build upon his first 90-minute appearance of the year, eager to show what he can do in postseason, hungry to contribute against a talented Philly side.
Union forward Julián Carranza
On the scoresheet in last Saturday’s Decision Day encounter in Foxborough, Carranza notched his third goal involvement in his last three games, having also tallied a goal and assist in the 3-2 win over Atlanta United. The Argentine opened the scoring at Gillette Stadium with an instinctive finish, reacting quickest to capitalize as he pounced on a loose ball in the box. The strike ensured the forward ended the Union’s regular season campaign as joint-top scorer, level with midfielder Dániel Gazdag on 14 goals for the year. Bagging 18 goals in all competitions (as well as six MLS assists), Carranza was named Player of the Matchday twice (earning four Team of the Matchday inclusions) and was nominated for the MLS MVP prize. Philadelphia’s fifth-highest goalscorer (with 33 goals in 78 appearances) has carved the most scoring attempts for his side this year in league action (84) and heads into Saturday’s match with seven goal involvements in his last 10 games. He found the net in both fixtures against New England in 2023, and will be hoping to add to his tally to help steer his side towards MLS Cup glory, after playing a key role in their run to last year’s Final with 23 goal involvements in 31 league games and a crucial strike in the Eastern Conference Final.
New England Revolution
Henry Kessler is back in contention after missing the regular season finale, but Ian Harkes remains unavailable with a head injury. Damián Rivera (knee) is also still sidelined, along with Brandon Bye (ACL) and Dylan Borrero (knee) who are long-term absentees. Jack Panayotou is still away with the United States U-22s at the 2023 Pan American Games.
José Martinez is set to return after yellow card suspension ruled him out of Decision Day action, while Philly head coach Jim Curtin confirmed only Jakob Glesnes is doubtful with the defender’s status being reviewed day-to-day.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Revolution interim head coach Clint Peay on players’ confidence after Decision Day win over Philadelphia:
“It’s good. Guys are excited about the result over the weekend, excited about getting started with playoffs, so [we’re feeling] optimism really. Obviously, any time you win, you feel better about yourselves – it’s a good feeling – but we certainly don’t want to look at the game and think it was all right. We want to still learn from it and see how we can grow so we can be a better team as we advance through the playoffs.”
On the psychological significance of defeating Philly ahead of their playoff matchup:
“I don’t really think it means anything. They call it a new season (the playoffs), and it’s a three-game series. This league is very competitive and on any given day, if you have a bad night [you could have trouble]. We understand who Philly is as a team, and what their strengths are. We’ve got to able to eliminate some of those things that they want to try to do, and be good as we attack and go forward to score goals.
“It’s not going to be easy. We obviously have to go Philly, and Philly’s very difficult to play at home. They’ll be ready. They’ll probably change some things. I certainly think winning the game is good for our morale and our confidence, but we have to recognize that it won’t be easy. They’re a team that relies heavily on playing centrally, little combinations and flicks centrally with their front three. Also, with set pieces, they are a real threat and danger. They’re definitely a team we see a lot of. We know them well, they know us well, so it’ll be a battle.”
On the positives and areas for improvement from last weekend’s win:
“I thought the discipline of the team [was good]. Overall, [we were] better defensively, clogged up the middle for an area that Philly really likes to attack, and limited the amount of fouls that we gave away in and around the box to give them chances to bring guys for free kicks. There were a few moments where we could communicate a little bit better from a defensive standpoint [and] just finishing in the final third, some execution with crosses. Things like that will allow us to turn half chances into real chances.”
On managing a best-of-three series and the prospect of penalty shootouts:
“It all comes down to the first game – you want to have a positive start in the first game. At a minimum, you want to give yourself a chance, and if that means going to penalties, that’s what it is, especially on the road. We have to be smart in how we approach the game, and we have to compete and make it difficult so that you’re in the game until the end and give ourselves a chance to win. As it relates to game two and potentially three, it’s all going to depend. You can use different strategies based on what you feel is the best way to get the result, but it is a format that becomes a little tricky.”
On having playoff experience across the roster:
“There’s a lot of experience on this team. Whether it’s in the starting XI or coming off the bench, we expect those guys to understand the moment, and be able to weather the storm if that happens, in difficult times to be able to see us through. It’s going to be important to rely on those guys to keep us going in a positive direction as we tackle these games.”
On how much he is personally relishing the challenge of guiding the team in the playoffs:
“I’ve been put in this role to hopefully help the team win a championship, so that’s my goal. Every day when we come out, that’s what I’m looking to try to do: improve the team to hopefully get them to a point where they can lift a cup at the end.”
On his message to the team ahead of playoffs:
“’We can score goals.’ It’s valuable to have multiple guys who can threaten the goal. These are our biggest guys who need to be able to do that. They’ve stepped up in different ways. If one guy’s not able to do it, there’s other guys on the pitch who can produce for you. We have to find a way to keep clean sheets, be good defensively, and be disciplined defensively. If we can do that, we give ourselves a really good chance of winning games.”
Revolution captain Carles Gil on his tactical analysis of Philadelphia:
“It’s a team that we know very well. We’ve had many games [against them] during the last three years. It’s a team that normally they play with a diamond, with two strikers – very good players up top with mobility. It’s been many years playing like this. [They have] five, six, seven players playing many years there so obviously, it’s a very good team. They have very good chemistry between them but we know them, we know the way to try to win the game. Obviously, we need to be focused for 90 [minutes]. Philly’s a team that if you’re not focused for one, two, three minutes, they’ll win the game so, we need to be focused and we’ll have a chance. It’s always hard to play in [Subaru Park]. It will be difficult but we’re ready for a win.”
On how the team feels about playing the Union after defeating them on Decision Day:
“Playoffs are always different. Also, it’s not just one game. We need to be back here and maybe a third game. It will be different. It will be very hard, but we had the experience of playing there in the playoffs [in 2020] and we had a very good result. They know that we’re a difficult team. For sure, they’ll be ready and us too.”
On the importance of putting together a strong performance for the full 90 minutes:
“In playoffs and even more against a team like Philly with that experience – they played in the [MLS Cup] final last year, they’re a strong team – you need to be focused for 90, 95 minutes because of the small details. In the last six, seven games, we lost or we won by one goal, so everything’s in the small details. For us, we need to be focused in defense and attack in every moment to win these type of games.”
On his thoughts on the Round One best-of-three format in the MLS Cup Playoffs:
“Well, not much changes in that we have to go there and win. We know that if we win this first game, it will be a huge step for us and it becomes difficult for them because they’ll know they have to come here and win. We’re focused on them. We know a tie takes us to penalty kicks. It’s a different format. We know the first game is important and we need to go win it.”
On how he motivates his teammates for the playoffs as team captain:
“In those moments, it’s easier. We don’t need extra motivation because it’s playoffs – it’s what we’ve waited for and we’re fighting for all year. Now everyone is ready because these are the games everyone wants to play and wants to compete. In Philly, the atmosphere is fun and they have difficult fans also making pressure. That’s the easy part – to be ready for the game. We’ll be good.”