MLS Regular Season | Match #23
Decision Day 2020 presented by AT&T
New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union
Sunday, November 8 | 3:30 p.m. ET
Subaru Park | Chester, Pa.
Watch: ABC (English), ESPN Deportes (Spanish)
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub (English), 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA (Portuguese)
Revolution Pregame Live presented by Dan O’Brien Automotive Group (2:45 p.m. ET)
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New England Revolution
6th in Eastern Conference (8-6-8, 32 pts., 1.45 ppg)
Last Result | 4-3 win vs. D.C. United
Teal Bunbury’s second-half brace helped the Revs claim an emotional 4-3 victory over D.C. United last weekend, marking the first time New England won a game in which they trailed by two goals in more than 17 years. Bunbury now leads the Revs with eight goals on the season, while the Revolution’s attack has also been sparked by the returns of Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou.
Not only did that victory over D.C. snap the Revs’ brief three-game winless run, but it also put them in prime position to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference and avoid the Play-In Round. New England would ensure themselves a sixth-place finish with a win or draw on Sunday afternoon at Subaru Park.
1st in Eastern Conference (13-4-5, 44 pts., 2.00 ppg)
Last Result | 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew SC
Philadelphia missed out on a chance to clinch the Supporters’ Shield last weekend, suffering a 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew SC and seeing their six-game unbeaten run (5-0-1) come to an end in the process. It was only the Union’s second loss (9-2-2) in the past two months.
Now the Union are set up for a grandstand finish on Sunday, as they’ll host the Revs with an opportunity to complete a perfect season at Subaru Park (where they’re 8-0-0) and clinch the Supporters’ Shield, which would represent the first trophy in club history.
Revolution midfielder Carles Gil
The Revs have received a somewhat unexpected boost in recent weeks with the earlier-than-anticipated return of Carles Gil, who made consecutive 27-minute appearances off the bench before working his way back into the starting XI for last weekend’s win over D.C. United.
Those 124 minutes have been critical as Gil continues to work his way towards full fitness and sharpness ahead of the playoffs, but the Revs captain has already shown his influence, creating a team-high three chances against D.C. and assisting on Bunbury’s first goal. That attacking influence could be vital against a Philadelphia side the Revs have scored just two goals against in four meetings this season.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Joe Bendik
Andre Blake is the odds-on favorite to be named MLS Goalkeeper the Year and his importance to the Union has been on full display in previous meetings with the Revs, including just three weeks ago at Gillette Stadium where he made multiple highlight-reel saves in Philadelphia’s 2-1 win.
But Blake will miss Sunday’s showdown at Subaru Park with a fractured bone in his right hand, leaving goalkeeping duties in the hands of MLS veteran Joe Bendik. The 31-year-old has made 178 appearances in his career, but just eight since the start of last season, and he could have a big role to play on Sunday.
That is, of course, unless Jim Curtin elects to go with young goalkeeper Matt Freese, who hasn’t featured in a league match since July of last year.
In addition to Carles Gil’s return to the starting XI last weekend there was also good news for Gustavo Bou, who came off the bench to play 45 minutes after missing five of the previous six games with a hamstring injury. Working that duo back into the mix has been a priority for the Revs as they approach the playoffs.
“It’s really important to have two [Designated Players] back,” said Henry Kessler. “Carles was an MLS Best XI player last year so it’s really important to have him, and Gustavo has been really important, too. It’s good to have those guys back and we’ll try to use them as much as possible.”
DeJuan Jones could see his run of nine straight starts end as Bruce Arena said the defender is “day-to-day” after a hamstring injury forced him off in the 20th minute of the win over D.C. Brandon Bye, who started the first 17 games of the season at right back, took over when Jones was withdrawn.
The absence of goalkeeper Andre Blake (fractured hand) could loom large for the Union, but they appear set to regain the services of midfielder Jose Martinez, who has missed six of the last seven games.
The only other player currently on Philadelphia’s injury report is defender Matt Real – listed as out – while midfielder Warren Creavalle has come off the injury report after missing the last five games.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena
“Well, all the games are very close. You could argue we had a chance to get more than one point in four games against them. We’ve played well on a number of occasions and I think they’re a good, smart team and that’s why they’ve beaten us on three occasions. They’re proved they were a smarter team on the day, took advantage of a couple mistakes, got some outstanding goalkeeping at times – I think the loss of [Andre] Blake is going to hurt them a bit – but they’re a good team. We lost 2-1 last time at home, we were 0-0 at home before that, and we lost 2-1 in Philadelphia where we conceded a goal in stoppage time when we played with 10 men for about 30 minutes or so. We’ve had some good games but we’ve made a couple mistakes that have cost us dearly, so that’s what we’ve learned but they’re a very good team.”
New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil
“I was out for a long time with a surgery that’s still noticeable. I got here and there have been so many games one after another that I haven’t been able to train much. Being inactive for so long, that hasn’t helped me. But this week, for example, was a long week so we’ve had three, four training sessions that have gone very well. Little by little, I’m getting into form. I’m feeling better. I still have a little to go before I’m at 100 percent but I’m hoping to get there soon to be in top form for the playoffs.”
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin
“I’m very confident in the group. I know that the players – and I can assure our fans – are going to give everything that they possibly have this Sunday at home, where we’ve been a very strong team at Subaru Park. Everybody’s excited to end this season the right way, and then obviously set ourselves up for more home games and make a big run in the playoffs.”
Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya
“I don’t feel any pressure. Maybe some other guys do. It’s obviously a big game, but we’ve just got to continue playing our game. It’s unfortunate we fell short in Columbus, although I thought we played very well. Just the difference came at both ends of the field. If we play another game like Columbus, at home, we should be fine, so it’s just this week, just keep training the way we’ve been training, keep going at it. We know we’ve been strong at home, and I’m confident that if we can continue playing the way we have we’ll get the three points and the first trophy in club history.”