The Union face the only team between them and a playoff spot Saturday night in Foxborough.
The boys in blue (8-3-11, 27 points) match up against the New England Revolution (7-8-7, 29 points) in an Eastern conference six-pointer that has important playoff implications. Win, and the Union leapfrog the Revs into the last spot with just eleven matches to go. Lose, and gap between the U and New England goes to five points.
The Union are coming off of a 3-0 away loss in Portland last weekend that was regarded lightly due to the impending Open Cup Semifinal on Wednesday. Manager Jim Curtin fielded a squad on the West Coast that would rest some of his starters, and it paid off with a 3-0 Open Cup win just days later. The Revs meanwhile haven’t won a match in their last five, going 0-3-2 and most recently coughing up two points by allowing Orlando City to equalize in second half stoppage for a 3-3 draw.
These two teams have met before this year, way back on March 3rd. The Union took all three points from a nine-man Revs side by a score of 2-0 when Anthony Fontana and C.J. Sapong opened their accounts for the year. They’ll meet one more time too, just two weeks from now in Chester in a match that, should one team win both of these contests, may put the loser’s playoff hopes to the sword.
Missing for the Union is Ilsinho with a right quad strain. Young defender Mark McKenzie is questionable with a knee contusion.
It’s critical that the U keep Cory Burke and the midfield of Borek Dockal, Alejandro Bedoya, and Haris Medunjanin going. If they falter without better play from David Accam or Sapong, the playoffs will be a long forgotten dream. There are also questions in the back: as the games get bigger, can the kids handle the pressure? Can they stay fit through the grueling season, along with the additional matches the Open Cup tosses at them? I suspect yes, but we’ll have to wait to see. Also of import: the Union have beaten (and shut out) the Revs out in four of the last five times they’ve faced them, so expect Andre Blake to potentially factor in even more than usual.
It’s hard to win on the road, but the Union have done well against the Revs. With the direction both teams are moving in, I expect that to continue Saturday.
Union 2, Revs 0