Carles Gil vs. Philadelphia Union (2020, Colonial)
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Decision Day loss in Philly offers Revs lessons ahead of playoff game vs. Impact

CHESTER, Pa. – Sunday afternoon’s Decision Day showdown with the Philadelphia Union didn’t go to plan for the New England Revolution, who started the day in 6th place in the Eastern Conference but finished it in 8th, although they’d already clinched their spot in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Revs’ 2-0 loss to the Union secured a first-ever trophy for the hosts – Philadelphia claiming the Supporters’ Shield with the league’s best regular-season record – while victories for the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC were enough to force the Revolution into the Play-In Round, where they’ll host the 9th-seeded Montreal Impact on Friday, November 20.

“We’ll evaluate this game and then all we can do is the task at hand,” said Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner. “We shot ourselves in the foot. Obviously we needed a result today to guarantee ourselves that top-six spot and we weren’t able to do that tonight.

“I wouldn’t call it a combination of bad luck – everything was in our own control. We would’ve been lucky if we got out of that first half without conceding a goal because we were really poor on the day. It was a better, much more promising second half and hopefully we can build on that, win our play-in game, and keep it rolling.”

Head coach Bruce Arena was particularly disappointed with the first half on Sunday, saying the Revs “were dominated” in the opening 45 minutes. Still, they only trailed 1-0 at the break as Sergio Santos made the breakthrough shortly before the halftime whistle.

But the Revs never sparked to life in the attacking third despite having their trio of Designated Players – Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, and Adam Buksa – in the starting XI together for the first time since July, and didn’t register a shot on target until the 85th minute. That was particularly disappointing with young Union goalkeeper Matt Freese making his first MLS appearance in 16 months.

“We wanted to get shots, crosses, guys running across the first post,” said Scott Caldwell. “I just don’t think we did a good enough job in the buildup and getting second balls in the first half to really challenge him. We knew that it was a young goalkeeper and knew that we were going to try to challenge him, but we just weren’t sharp enough in other phases of the game to get there.”

The good news is that Sunday’s game “has nothing to do with the next game,” as Arena said in his post-match press conference, and the Revs will now have two weeks to prepare themselves for their playoff meeting with the Impact – a side they’ve beaten three straight times since early July.

“We’re going to have to learn from that one,” Caldwell said of Sunday’s loss. “We went into that game knowing it was going to be a playoff-type game, and if we’re going to win and advance in the playoffs and get results, then we’re going to need to play better than that, especially the way we came out of the gate.”