FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A new era officially begins on Saturday night when Brad Friedel leads the New England Revolution into Talen Energy Stadium for a season-opening meeting with the Philadelphia Union.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with live coverage on WSBK myTV38, 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2, and WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA. The match will also be streamed live for local viewers on revolutionsoccer.net, while the club will host a pair of official watch parties at both The Banshee (934 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA 02125) and Brass Monkey (800 Allens Avenue, Providence, R.I., 02905).
Current Form: Both sides eager for a fresh start after frustrating 2017 seasons
New England and Philadelphia finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference last year, making them the first two teams below the playoff line. Both will be excited to kick off a new campaign on Saturday night with a clean slate and fresh optimism.
It was an offseason of change for the Revs, who’ve brought in eight new signings – highlighted by the international trio of Cristian Penilla, Gabriel Somi and Wilfried Zahibo – in addition to Friedel and an entirely new coaching staff.
With him Friedel has brought a fresh perspective, and the work the Revs have put in on the training ground the past six weeks has laid the foundation for his first year at the helm.
“There’s a lot of accountability, a lot of professionalism,” said Teal Bunbury. “There are a lot of expectations for guys, so I think that’s something that each player has been able to deal with and kind of adjust to.
“Moving forward with the coaching staff and new players, everyone has bought into the new philosophies and new style. We’re going to be a super fit team, but we’re also going to be a team that plays, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
New England went 2-1-4 in seven preseason matches, wrapping up their preparations in style with penalty shootout victory over the Houston Dynamo to lift the Mobile Mini Sun Cup.
Philadelphia return Jim Curtin for a fourth year as head coach, but they also feature several new faces, including former Chicago Fire winger David Accam – acquired in a draft-day trade – and Czech Republic international Borek Dockal, officially signed on loan from Chinese club Henan Jianye earlier this week.
C.J. Sapong (16 goals, 5 assists) and Haris Medunjanin (2 goals, 12 assists) are key returnees after putting together solid campaigns in 2017.
Past Meetings: Revs and Union split a pair of lopsided results in 2017
The Revs and Union met twice in the span of four weeks last July, but the results could not have been any more different as both teams rolled to a comfortable win at home.
Philadelphia claimed a 3-0 victory in the first meeting at Talen Energy Stadium, while the Revs returned the favor with a 3-0 win of their own just 27 days later at Gillette Stadium. The last four results in the series have all been decided by a final score line of either 3-0 or 4-0.
While the Revs have fallen by that familiar 3-0 score line on their last two visits to Philadelphia, they did win three straight matches at Talen Energy Stadium between May 2014 and August 2015.
Injury Report: Angking out and Herivaux questionable as Revs head to Philly
Isaac Angking is currently improving as a he deals with “a non-soccer related medical emergency,” although there has been no timetable placed on his return.
Zach Herivaux, meanwhile, is listed as questionable as he battles to return from an ankle injury, while Lee Nguyen continues to build his fitness after missing a large chunk of preseason.
Juan Agudelo and Krisztián Németh have both returned to full health, however, as the forward duo saw their first preseason minutes in the Revs’ final two matches in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup.
Final Thoughts: Friedel says Revs will play with same approach home and away
“We’re going to try to go into Philadelphia with a winning mentality that we’ve tried to promote during preseason,” said Friedel. “We’re not going to change the way we’re playing just because we’re going on the road.
“Hopefully we’ll instill a winning mentality on the road and at home. (The club had) an impeccable home record last year, and hopefully we can build on that a little bit this year.”