FOXBOROUGH, Mass – A national television audience will look on as the New England Revolution attempt to stretch their unbeaten run to five games on Sunday evening against the Philadelphia Union.
The Revs (2-2-2, 8 pts.) will visit the Union (1-3-3, 6 pts.) at PPL Park, where kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
Adrian Healey and Revolution legend Taylor Twellman will have the call on ESPN2, kicking off MLS Soccer Sunday coverage. New York City FC and the Portland Timbers will follow at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
Once again the radio call will be available in both English (on 98.5 The Sports Hub) and Portuguese (on WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA).
Current Form: Unified defensive effort has Revs on the rise; Philly rounds out busy week
New England’s last appearance on ESPN2 was a 2-0 loss to New York City FC, a result which dropped the Revs to 0-2-0 on the young season. But it’s been a swift turnaround since that evening at Yankee Stadium as the Revs have gone 2-0-2 in their past four matches to climb back into the thick of the Eastern Conference standings.
While the Revolution are still waiting to break out offensively – their four goals are tied for second-fewest in the league – they’ve gotten themselves back on track with a string of stout defensive performances, racking up three shutouts in the past four games, including last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC.
“I think it’s a team effort,” Chris Tierney said of the Revs’ defensive performances. “I don’t think it’s just about the back four; it’s about the way we pressure high up the field and a commitment to defending from all 11 guys.”
Philadelphia will wrap up a busy week on Sunday when they’ll play their third match in the span of nine days. They’ll be looking to finish strong after taking four points from a home-and-home with NYCFC, nabbing a 2-1 win at PPL Park last weekend before snatching a late equalizer in a 1-1 road draw on Thursday night.
Past Meetings: Recent history littered with high-scoring meetings between Revs and Union
Recent meetings between New England and Philadelphia have produced loads of goals – a total of 19 in the past four regular-season meetings for an average of 4.75 goals per game. The highest-scoring of that bunch was on the Revolution’s most recent visit to PPL Park, where they were 5-3 winners last May.
“I think it’s just two teams that aren’t afraid to go try to score goals,” said Tierney. “Especially at their place, Philly feels the pressure from their fans to go forward and attack and score goals, and we tend to be a team that can exploit you if you leave yourselves open.”
To date that 5-3 victory is the Revolution’s only triumph at PPL Park, where they went 0-4-2 on six previous visits.
Injury Report: Jones aiming for increased minutes; Tierney pushing for swift return
Jermaine Jones’ highly-anticipated 2015 debut last weekend against Crew SC lasted just 45 minutes, but the influential midfielder is hoping he’ll be fit enough to push past that mark on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Both Jones and head coach Jay Heaps have said that the goal will be to steadily increase Jones’ minutes as the weeks go by, with adjustments made based on how he feels as the games progress.
“We pushed hard all week,” Heaps said. “It was really good to get him 45 (minutes against Columbus), and I think we’re just going to continue to increase his minutes.”
Heaps is also hopeful that Tierney will be available to return after missing last weekend’s game with a sprained left ankle, while Daigo Kobayashi is also making progress from the hamstring injury which has sidelined him for the past two weeks.
Final Thoughts: Revs staying “focused and motivated” ahead of trip to Philly
“They have a very good team,” Charlie Davies said of the Union, noting his close relationship with Philly center back Maurice Edu. “I’ve been able to watch them for a couple of games this season and they have what it takes to be successful.
“On any given day, any MLS team can really bring it to you, so we always have to stay focused and motivated and I don’t think that’ll be an issue for us Sunday.”