CHESTER, Pa. – Interim head coach Clint Peay and defender Andrew Farrell assert the New England Revolution are still hopeful of advancing in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, despite suffering defeat in Saturday’s Round One opener against the Philadelphia Union.
The Revs fell to a 3-1 reverse at Subaru Park in Game 1, as the hosts raced into a 3-0 halftime lead through a Dániel Gazdag penalty, plus goals from Mikael Uhre and Nathan Harriel. However, the visitors produced an improved second half showing as Gustavo Bou reduced the deficit with a superbly-taken solo effort – his third goal against the Union in the last seven days.
With no aggregate score in the best-of-three postseason series and potentially two more matches to play, the Revolution have the opportunity to put the setback behind them and start afresh in Game 2 – their approach ultimately unaffected with the need for victory. Already eager to step out at Gillette Stadium in front of their own fans in the home fixture on Wednesday, November 8, both Peay and Farrell believe the team can take heart from the positives in Pennsylvania, as well as inspiration from a raucous and rousing Revs faithful.
“We were able to create some quality chances, and we had a good start to the game, moving the ball well,” Peay reflected. “Albeit the scoreline is not what we wanted, we feel we can create and produce chances against this team, and now the key is: can we capitalize on some of those moments?
“Obviously, we can’t make errors – our own little silly errors – that cost us goals. We have to be more buttoned up in how we deal with certain moments – not giving away silly fouls in and around the box that provides them opportunities to put balls in the box; be a little cleaner in general defensively, and we’ve got to take our chances when we create them.
“The message was clear before we entered the game: we know how Philadelphia is, especially at home – they’re aggressive, they’re physical – so I don’t think there was anything that surprised us there. They’re very physical, they disrupted us a lot, especially in transition moments. Set pieces and the aggressiveness of how they approached the game [caused problems].
“On set pieces, we know they’re a team that can be very dangerous and they capitalized on that, so that was an issue. Other than that, as the game opened up, transition became an issue but we’re chasing the game and before that, I don’t think it was a problem for us.
“In front of our crowd at home [in Game 2], you hope that the crowd and the spirit lifts us, and gives us the edge in terms of getting the victory.”
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New England’s all-time highest appearance maker, defender Farrell lined up to start at Subaru Park in his seventh postseason campaign with the Revs.
Though disappointed to have fallen to defeat in the series opener and frustrated with manner of the goals conceded, the center back insists he is remaining ‘optimistic’ for his side’s chances of reaching the Conference Semifinals.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result – disappointed with the first half and the mistakes we made,” Farrell said. “It's always tough to play away at Philadelphia, and they did a good job of making it hard for us. We were disappointed with how we started the game and mistakes we made but let's put in a better effort and build into the home game – that's all we're looking to do.
“We made it hard on ourselves but we're optimistic. We lost one game at home [this year], we just beat this team at home, so we're excited to get back in front of our fans. We definitely need to put out a better performance, and I think we will. The guys are going to rally.
“We started off the game really well but then after the PK and Carles [Gil] going down [with injury], Philadelphia turned up the pressure and when they do that, things like that can happen. It's part of the game though. Going down a goal against a team like Philadelphia at their home place is difficult, and then when your best player goes down, the mountain seems higher to climb – but we're disappointed with how we reacted.
“We need to be better and just see it to halftime and get to the half. We should have kept on playing like we did in the first 10-15 minutes. We didn't unfortunately and put ourselves in a deep hole to dig out – but we're going back home, and we know we can beat this team at home and that's what we're looking forward to doing.
“We know we can play with these guys, and I was proud of the guys' effort in the second half. The effort was way better, and we were able to score a goal and almost got another one. We were a little bit more [physical] in the second half. We obviously won the second half 1-0 but at the end of day, we’ve got to start the game better and limit our mistakes to have a chance to get back into this series.”
Peay also discussed the injury to Carles Gil with the captain frustratingly forced off early in the first half with a knock, and provided updates on defender Henry Kessler and midfielder Tommy McNamara.
The interim head coach admitted it is too soon to know the extent or timeframe of the skipper’s setback, but hopes that with 11 days to wait until the must-win Game 2 encounter at Gillette Stadium, the full squad have time to recover both physically and mentally.
“We’ll have to reevaluate Carles [Gil] in the next day or two and see where he is,” Peay added. “He just took a knock and it was enough to limit him, so he had to come off for it – but no real prognosis yet.
“[This break] gets some guys like Henry Kessler a little healthier. Tommy ‘Mac’ had a little bit of an issue, so we had to pull him [from the starting XI] so he can recover.
“Everyone’s in contention – goalkeepers as well. [It was] a tough call there [for Jacob Jackson] with the penalty – he’s making a play on the ball. In general, I thought that he made a couple of decent saves, protected the goal well, and was steady.
“We’ll just make decisions as we move forward. We have a few days to think about it. In some respects, [the break helps] in terms of working on things. It’s the end of the season, and I think the team is what the team is.
“We understand what our challenges are and where we need to be better, Ultimately, we just need a better effort in critical moments not to concede goals and we give ourselves a chance to win games.”
Secure your seat and help to make homefield advantage count as the Revolution host the Union in the crucial Game 2 of the Round One playoff series. Tickets for the game at Gillette Stadium are available now.