The Union won a huge match this past Wednesday, beating the Chicago Fire 3-0 in the US Open Cup Semifinal. As the team transitions back to MLS play, the Union have a chance at moving above the red line, flip-flopping with New England. Our Philly Sports Network Union Crew Preview if Philadelphia can win a match at New England with playoff implications.
To say Saturday night’s match in Foxborough, MA versus the New England Revolution has major implications on the Union’s playoff hopes is an understatement. The high of the Open Cup win this week will have to wear off quickly and Jim Curtin needs to get his club focused on the task at hand. MLS players hate playing at that out-dated, out-of-the-way stadium, and Saturday night will be no exception. It’s calling for rain, day and night and that means ball control and the play of the Union midfield will be crucial.
The Revolution have had a disappointing season so far, even though they currently sit above the red playoff line. They have been good, not great at home, and are win-less in their last five matches, while being outscored 10-5. Not that the Revolution were going to take a top two spot in the East, but since defensive midfielder, Chris Tierney, was lost for the season with a torn ACL, they’ve been victorious only twice in nine matches. Their scoring and defense are both middle-of-the-road. Forward, Teal Bunbury is having his best MLS campaign with 11 goals, but New England’s MVP’s can be found in the midfield. First year player Cristian Penilla has contributed 9 goals and 5 assists, and Diego Fagundez could also be having his best season yet, tallying 7 goals and 7 assists.
I’m not worried about Alejandro Bedoya, but with a sluggish, wet field this weekend, Borek Dockal and especially Haris Medunjanin must step up their games. Especially Medunjanin – no more passes to your opponents as if they’re your teammates. The weakest part of the Union over the past month has been on the right-wing. While Ilsinho has been out with an injured quad, David Accam, Marcus Epps, and Fabian Herbers have generated very little offense. I’m not a doctor, but if that was just a strain, the Union need to tell Ilsinho to get his butt back on the field. Here are the implications of a loss: Not only would the Union fall five points behind New England, the boys in blue have to face a very tough NYCFC the following week, while the Revolution are matched up with D.C. United. A much easier task for the Revolution if you ask me and that could spell disaster for the Union. And please start Mr. Burke!
Revolution: 1 Union: 1
Union Man of the Match: Alejandro Bedoya
The Philadelphia Union have a huge opportunity this Saturday night! The Philadelphia Union can take huge step up in their playoff hopes by getting a result against New England Revolution. The Revs have already lost to the Union, albeit in the first match of the season. Now that the season is moving into its final stages, the two teams are fighting for a playoff spot; they play each other twice in three weeks. The results from these matches have huge playoff implications!
The New England Revolution have had a rough time this past month. They haven’t won a game since June 30th, and have dropped points at home along this streak. This game will be their first home game in four weeks, which could give them a boost, but their interesting home form should make Union fans optimistic about this match.
As for the Union, they will have some heavy legs, but with a week a six-day break after this game they will be able to go all out in another crucial match. After winning the US Open Cup Semifinal, Philadelphia will be riding a high to New England. That with their form should be enough to get crucial points from New England.
If the Union play the majority of their starters from the US Open Cup Match they will see a positive result. In terms of possible changes to the roster, there’s only two I think we could see. One is much more realistic than the other.
Let’s start with the unrealistic one. If Jim Curtin tinkers with his team this way I, and many others would be surprised, but this makes a lot of sense. Move Bedoya to the right-wing, and start Derrick Jones. This would create a strong and solid Union team that could compete with the Rev’s strong midfield. Another move I see as more realistic is starting Sapong on the right-wing. That paid dividends in the USOC semifinal, and it was when the Union looked their best in that crucial match. Sapong has looked his best all season when he plays the right-wing spot, maybe this trend could continue in New England?
I expect minimal changes, and for the Union’s confidence to be riding high. Philadelphia has a great track record of winning in New England. The Union’s recent form and confidence against the Rev’s recent poor form is a blueprint for a monumental win. I think the Union see this opportunity and take it, with help from Andre Blake who Rev’s fans love!
Revolution: 1 Union: 2
Union Man of the Match: Andre Blake
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.