For the better part of 2020, the Philadelphia Union only played, and beat, one team: the New England Revolution. No seriously, we played them every other week during the regular season last year it seemed and I got really tired of it. Mostly because it was all losing on the Revs end, four regular season games AND an MLS is Back Round of 16 knockout loss and we didn’t even get a Christmas card from the Union thanking us for helping them lift the Supporter’s Shield last year.
Then the playoffs rolled around and something every unexpected happened. The Revs rode a wave of momentum from Gustavo Bou’s stoppage time rocket against Montreal all the way through Philadelphia and Orlando to the Eastern Conference Final. Tajon Buchanan became an electric right back option, MLS was reminded that Carles Gil is great at soccer, and all of these things really started with a playoff win in Chester.
But that was last year. The Revs aren’t going to be surprising anyone in 2021 and especially not a semifinalist in the CONCACAF Champions League. A result against Philly tonight would be incredible, a second win in a row even moreso, especially with another huge matchup against the Columbus Crew at home this weekend.
I think New England needs four points from the weekend to really solidify their spot atop the East. While logic dictates to take your point on the road and win at home, it’s hard to say which is the harder matchup for the Revs. Going into Philly against a potentially tired Union squad that has similar issues up top at striker might be the easier matchup. Plus we know the Revs can win on a cold night in Chester.
Anyway, we chat with Joe Lister from the Brotherly Game about the Union in the CCL and they guy who took over for the legendary Ray Gaddis in the Union backline. Be sure to check out my answers to Joe’s questions over on their site.
The Revs and Union kickoff tonight at 7:38PM from Subaru Park.
TBM: The Philadelphia Union are the last MLS team in the CCL, with a semifinal series against Club America waiting for them in August, but have just four points in league play so far and zero points from two games at home. Are the Union satisfied with where they are a month into the season?
JL: I think that it depends on the fan, but overall I think the fanbase would rather see CCL wins than MLS wins. The Union also earned their first victory of the season over Chicago this weekend, and while Chicago may not be a great team, things could be on the up and up. As CCL takes a break for the next few months, however, there’s going to be much more pressure to succeed in MLS play.
TBM: Philly has just three goals in league play so far, but Kacper Przybylko in particular has looked great so far in the CCL. Are there any concerns with the Union’s slow start besides fixture congestion and where on the field do they need to improve and/or is there someone that needs to step up and just play better?
JL: Right now the Union’s trying to find two solid strikers that can work together. The team has consistently put Kacper Przybylko in a starting tole up top but has rotated out Sergio Santos, Cory Burke, and Anthony Fontana throughout the season. I think that the team’s perfectly happy if Przybylko can throw the offense in his backpack all the way to the playoffs, but for now, the team is still trying to find some consistency up top.
TBM: On the positive side, talk about someone who has started the year well in all competitions that maybe we’re not seeing on the scoresheet.
Olivier Mbaizo has had a pretty solid year so far. He spent the past few seasons as Ray Gaddis’ backup, and with Gaddis’ retirement, and as Gaddis signed off after the 2020 season, Mbaizo got the call-up. So far, he’s shown that he’s got what it takes. He’s still relatively young and has room to grow, but he can make an offense really work at times.
JL: Jose Martinez is out due to a (well deserved) suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, meaning that there will be a huge hole in the Union’s defense with him out. Stuart Findlay will also sit, but he hasn’t seen many minutes yet anyways.
I’m seeing a classic 2-1 result with Kapcer Przybylko and Jamiro Monteiro netting a goal apiece, though it’ll be tough for New England to put on past Andre Blake.
Przybylko - Burke
McGlynn - Bedoya
Wagner - Elliott - Glesnes - Mbaizo