The Philadelphia Union looks to get its second win of the season in a midweek matchup against a familiar foe. Last year the Union played the New England Revolution six times; five were won by Philly, but the one won by the Revs stings the most. After the best season in Union history, New England beat Philly in the first round of the 2020 playoffs to thrash the top seed’s hopes of an MLS Cup. The first meeting of 2021 is one where Philly fans will want to see their team out for revenge against the side that ended their amazing 2020 season. Will the Union look for revenge against the New England Revs?
Will the Union look for revenge?
Philadelphia is only three points behind New England who sits in a tie for first place in the eastern conference with NYCFC. This is a big match for both teams early on in a season that will be full of important matches against conference opponents. Should Philly win, they could be with the Revs and NYC at the top of the east. A New England win will make another statement as it did in last year’s playoffs. The questions on everyone’s mind have to do with this rivalry continuing this season, and if Philly can finally get their first league home win of 2021.
Will the rivalry from 2020 carry over to this match?
It was clear last year that these two teams did not care for one another. The matches were chippy, to say the least. All of the games were close contests, decided by one or two goals; the winner was almost always found later on in the second half of the matches. When these two teams come together there are usually fireworks. In his weekly press conference, Jim Curtin talked about the sting he and the club felt and still feel from the New England loss that ended their 2020 season.
The sting of last season’s end
“It hurts when a team ends your season. It stays with you, and it hurts for a while, you know, and that part is hard.”Jim Curtin
I’m sure Jim, the coaching staff and the players who returned from the 2020 squad have all thought about what they could have done differently in the playoff match last season. This week especially, those thoughts and feelings likely pop-up. This only deepens the rivalry that is brewing between these two sides. For many, the hurt of a team ending their season would trigger the want for revenge, or to avenge last year’s bad result. Should the Union look for revenge against the Revs? Nah, that isn’t the way Jim Curtin roles.
It’s not avenging time?
“It’s not an opportunity to avenge last year when they beat us in the playoffs or anything like that, it’s two different teams at the early stage of the year, you know, fighting for points so it’ll be a tough match.”Jim Curtin
Yes, the teams are quote, unquote, different; even though the coaches are the same, the style of play is the same and most of the players on the rosters played last season. Jim is likely throwing some water on the fire for those that would call this a revenge game. However, there is no denying this is a budding MLS rivalry. The first edition in 2021 will shape how the series goes this season. These two sides will meet two more times in 2021; buckle up for some tightly contested matches when they face off.
Lets move on now to another pressing question, can the Union win this match to secure their first home win of 2021?
Can the Union win first home MLS game of 2021?
The Union has done something in the four games they played this season that they didn’t do in the entirety of the 2020 season. That is, lose at home in the regular season. Philly’s two home losses are something that the club is not accustomed to. Can they get one in the win column over the Revolution on Wednesday night?
Jim Curtin mentioned that the home losses cannot be tolerated and that the players really don’t like the feeling of losing in front of their home fans. The Union has made Subaru Park one of the hardest places to play over the last few seasons. They will need to step their game up to do that again now that they have lost twice already at home in 2021.
The Revolution come in as a very organized side. They’re going to want to possess the ball and get it at the feet of playmakers Carlos Gil and Gustavo Bou. For the Union to get their first home win of the season they will have to limit those player’s touches, while not letting their focus slip and letting the other talented Revs players get in dangerous positions.
This match is perfect for the Union to get that first home win. If they want to show that they truly are contenders in the east and that their two losses on the season were a result of prioritizing CCL play, then they will need to show their defensive soundness against New England.
This is in the Union’s wheelhouse; be defensively sound then hit on the counter. In what is almost guaranteed to be a nail-biting affair for both Philly and New England fans, one question remains, who will come out on top?
I see this game to be a continuation of the rivalry forged in 2020. When Bruce Arena’s Revs take on Jim Curtin’s Union it’s a battle of the different styles. The result will go to who can execute better on the day. Last season the Union’s style won out five times out of six but failed when it mattered most.
In the first meeting in 2021, I see both teams getting a goal inside of the hour mark. Both sides are talented enough to break the other down, but the team that can keep their play going consistently for the entire 90 minutes will be the one that comes out victorious in the end!
For me, I think the Union is going to go on a bit of a points streak here before the Gold Cup break at the beginning of June. The Union will find a way to push for, and get, a winning goal in the last half hour of the match. I wouldn’t even be surprised if that goal came inside of the last 10 minutes of play!
I have the Union winning 2-1 in a tight, chippy affair with a lot of bickering on the field as these two sides straight up don’t like each other! The Union may not look for revenge tonight, but they’ll be the victors!
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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH