FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will look to close out their three-game home-stand with a second consecutive win on Saturday night when they welcome the Philadelphia Union to Gillette Stadium.
The Union (7-9-5, 26 pts.) currently sit three points ahead of the Revs (6-9-5, 23 pts.) in the Eastern Conference standings, although New England does hold a game in hand on Philadelphia.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night with Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Naoko Funayama handling the English call on CSN New England and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Revolution Pregame Live with Gabriella DiGiovanni and Jeff Lemieux will begin at 7 p.m. on the Revolution’s official Facebook page, while Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on CSN New England.
Fans attending Saturday night’s match are encouraged to bring donations for Cradles to Crayons as part of the Revolution’s charitable drive series. A list of items that will be accepted for donation is available HERE, and items will be collected outside the stadium gates beginning 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
Current Form: Win over LA gives Revs something to build on as they close out July
Last weekend’s thrilling, back-and-forth, 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy offered the Revs a building block as they picked up three much-needed points and snapped a four-game skid in the league.
While the victory was most important, the performance did leave the Revs with plenty to improve upon as they look ahead to Saturday night’s meeting with Philadelphia, particularly after conceding three goals for the second straight game at Gillette Stadium.
“We’re happy that we got the points, but at the same time, we realize that if we concede three goals at home, you can’t expect to win all that often,” said Chris Tierney. “We know that we’re still not where we want to be, but I think we had a great day at training [on Tuesday] and we’ll put in the work this week to make sure we continue to improve.”
Near the top of the list for New England’s focus this week is set-piece defending – particularly second-chance opportunities – as the Revs conceded a pair of goals against LA when balls were recycled into the box.
“I think it’s more concentration than anything tactically,” said Tierney. “It’s something that we have to just improve on our own. Guys have to be up for the fight and be ready to battle.”
Philadelphia also picked up a vital, slump-busting win in their last outing, rolling to a 3-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium to snap a three-game winless run (0-2-1). It was the Union’s second meeting with Crew SC in a matter of days after dropping a 1-0 result in Columbus last weekend.
Past Meetings: Sapong, Union have had Revolution’s number in recent years
Philadelphia have been New England’s biggest bogey team in recent years as the Revs have dropped three straight meetings with the Union, all by shutout, and all by margins of three-plus goals.
That includes a 3-0 win for Philadelphia just four weeks ago at Talen Energy Stadium, and a 4-0 triumph for the Union on their most recent visit to Gillette Stadium last August.
C.J. Sapong has been the biggest danger man for Philadelphia against New England, scoring four goals in the last three meetings and opening the scoring on each occasion.
“They’ve made it difficult for us, and we have not been able to get anything going, any momentum against them,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “It’s really important that we can put the game, at some point, on our terms.
“The last two times we’ve played them, we were never on our terms, ever, in [those games]. It’s critical that we do that from the opening whistle.”
The Union’s recent success in the series comes on the heels of a strong period for the Revs, who went 5-2-0 against Philadelphia from 2013 to 2015, including a pair of five-goal outbursts.
Injury Report: Revs nearing full strength after spell of injuries, international call-ups
A string of injuries, international call-ups and suspensions left the Revolution shorthanded for much of June and July – most notably for that loss in Philadelphia four weeks ago – but Heaps will have the benefit of a near full-strength squad when the Union visit Foxborough this weekend.
Kelyn Rowe returned from Gold Cup duty with a 90-minute shift last weekend against the Galaxy, while Xavier Kouassi (quad) made a late cameo off the bench to see his first action in seven weeks.
Juan Agudelo (USMNT) and Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) squared off in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, California – Watson scoring for Jamaica but the USMNT claiming the regional crown with a 2-1 win – but now the duo is back in New England and available this weekend.
Daigo Kobayashi may be available, as well, after missing four games with a hamstring injury.
“We have a full roster going into training and competing,” said Rowe, who picked up an assist in his return to the Revs last weekend. “We have guys competing for spots, we have guys competing to get on the [game day] roster.
“I think that makes us better players and going forward in the games, we have options in the starting eleven and on the bench. We have different formations we can try, because we have the personnel that we need.”
Final Thoughts: Fagundez calls upcoming games “the biggest stretch we’ve had all year”
“It was a good win, but at the end of the day, we need to move forward from it,” Diego Fagundez said of last weekend’s victory over LA. “There’s a new game coming up and we all have to be focused for that game. The stretch that we have from now to the end (of the season) is going to be the biggest stretch we’ve had all year. We just have to be motivated and ready for what comes.”