New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union | 2017 MLS Match Preview
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
2017 MLS Regular Season
Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Saturday, July 29 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
It’s not quite crunch time for the New England Revolution or the Philadelphia Union, but Saturday’s match between the two playoff-chasers at Gillette Stadium could loom large as both teams seek to climb up the standings over the second half of the season.
The eighth-place Union and the 10th-place Revs both had rocky first halves, with Philadelphia hindered by a very slow start and New England entering the Gold Cup break on a four-game MLS losing skid.
Both, however, are showing promise. New England won their first game following the Gold Cup break, snapping their four-game slide with a 4-3 home win against the LA Galaxy last Saturday. The Union fell 1-0 at Columbus over the weekend to drop their first result of the second half, but got revenge against Crew SC on Wednesday night, defeating the Black-and-Gold 3-0 at Talen Energy Stadium.
New England will pull level with the Union with a win on Saturday, while a road victory could bring Philadelphia into a tie with Orlando for seventh in the East. If either of these teams do end up qualifying for the postseason, it’s entirely possible they’ll look back at Saturday’s match as a springboard for the run that got them there.
New England Revolution
The big question for Revs head coach Jay Heaps heading into Saturday: Will he start Teal Bunbury?
The attacker has been limited to a sub role for most of the last calendar year, and only has two starts in regular season play in 2017. Those came in New England’s 3-0 loss at Philadelphia on July 2 and in their 3-2 home defeat to the Red Bulls on July 5, a match in which he scored. Heaps put him back on the bench for the victory against the Galaxy, and Bunbury – who plainly stated his dissatisfaction with his reserve role after the match – responded by scoring two goals to lead the Revs to victory.
“All game, I knew he was spewing and he was upset and you just knew that if we get him in the game at the right time, if the game was opening up just a little bit, he was going to tear it apart,” Heaps said. “I give him all the credit because he took [the lineup decision] hard, but carried himself well, came to the locker room and had a smile on his face but was angry. He went out and turned that game on its head. It was awesome.”
With three goals in his last two matches, there’s no doubt that the 27-year-old is in form. There are questions about whether or not Heaps – who will get forward Juan Agudelo back from Gold Cup duty on Saturday – will be able to shoehorn him into the lineup. If Bunbury is on the bench again vs. Philadelphia, that angry pregame feeling probably won’t be accompanied by a smile on Saturday.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: QUESTIONABLE - M Daigo Kobayashi (hamstring), M Xavier Kouassi (quad)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-4-2, diamond midfield): Brad Knighton – Chris Tierney, Benjamin Angoua, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Andrew Farrell – Xavier Kouassi, Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe – Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo
On Wednesday, CJ Sapong reached double digits in goals for a season for the third time in his career – it just came with a little bit of drama on the side.
Sapong and Roland Alberg got into a spat over who would take a first-half penalty that Sapong earned, with the striker becoming visibly upset after it was decided that the Dutch midfielder would take the PK. Alberg had his spot kick saved, but Sapong got his goal, heading a ball off the post then following up and tapping home the rebound to give the Union a 2-0 advantage.
The goal came between a pair of assists for Sapong, who now has 10 goals and five helpers in 20 appearances this season.
“It’s always good to break any barriers,” Sapong said. “But again, it’s just a stat. I want to continue to keep helping my team. This next half of the season, I need to keep performing and producing to help my team.”
He’ll need to pitch in a little extra on Saturday, as the Union will again be without Andre Blake after the Jamaican goalkeeper suffered a hand injury that required stitches in the Reggae Boyz’ loss to the US national team in the Gold Cup final on Wednesday. John McCarthy, who pitched a shutout on Wednesday, will likely start in place of the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: GK Andre Blake (hand), M Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery), F Fabian Herbers (sports hernia surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: M Fafa Picault (left hamstring strain)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): John McCarthy – Giliano Wijnaldum, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis – Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya – Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, Marcus Epps – CJ Sapong
The Union got the better of New England in the first meeting between the sides this year, beating the Revs 3-0 at Talen Energy Stadium on July 2 to move further ahead of the Revs in the all-time series between the clubs.
- Overall (19 regular season matches): New England 5W-10L-4D (24 GF/34 GA); Philadelphia 10W-5L-4D (34 GF/24 GA)
- At New England (8 regular season matches): New England 2W-4L-2D (10 GF/14 GA); Philadelphia 4W-2L-2D (14 GF/10 GA)
- Referee: Nima Saghafi
- Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Jose Da Silva
- Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica