The Philadelphia Union return to action after a two-week break Wednesday night with a road match against the New England Revolution.
When we last checked in on the Union, they had lost to DC United in their first (and last) 2019 U.S. Open Cup match two weeks ago. While it was disappointing to see the boys in blue drop of the tournament so quickly, it did provide the benefit of giving the squad a 14-day rest before resuming league play after the MLS Gold Cup break.
And this is a team that needed some rest. Two of their veteran players, Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, have played every minute so far. So has youngster Jack Elliott. Raymon Gaddis and Auston Trusty are not far behind with time spent on the pitch. And since head coach Jim Curtin does not seem to want to give those guys a rest, it was nice to see the league schedule force it.
There will probably be no surprises in Curtin’s starting XI, with the biggest question being Marco Fabian’s health. He has been nursing a sore left ankle which forced the Mexico national team to send him back to Philly after one day in camp. It was hoped that the ankle would heal up during the Gold Cup break, but the club still has him listed as questionable. Andre Blake is playing for Jamaica in the Gold Cup at the moment, so either Matt Freese or Carlos Miguel Coronel will fill in. Other than that, the starters will most likely be the same ones that Curtin used in their last MLS match, a thrilling 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls. The Union signed German-American striker Andrew Wooten last week, but Wooten won’t be officially available until the summer transfer window opens on July 9.
Their opponents, the next-to-last place Revolution, has gone through a period of upheaval since the Union gave them a 6-1 beatdown in Chester on May 4. The Revs then hit rock bottom when they lost to Chicago 5-0 on May 8. The Revs fired head coach Brad Friedel the next day, then fired General Manager Mike Burns four days later. On May 14 the Revs named former USMNT and LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena to the position. Since Friedel’s firing, the Revs are have been riding a four game unbeaten streak in league play coming into this match. Coupled with a win and a loss in U.S. Open Cup play, the team has only lost once in their last six games.
On paper, the Revs don’t look as bad as their record indicates, with players such as Carles Gil, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury and Luis Caicedo to name a few. With the change in the coaching staff, the team is starting to climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves, and are now only three points under the playoff red line in the Eastern Conference.
The Union, on the other hand, is in first place, and will still be in first place no matter what happens Wednesday night. But they surely would like to put more distance between themselves and the rest of the conference. Road points are always tough to come by in MLS, but the boys in blue are playing with confidence, and should be bringing some swagger with them as they go into Gillette Stadium. If there is ever a good chance to get some away points, this is it. Prediction: Union 2, Revs 0