Week 19 Preview: Union vs. New England Revolution

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

The Union will finally have the chance to take on the New England Revolution, facing a New England team that is, to put it simply, on a tear this season.

It sounds intimidating, but the Union have never been the kind of team to let bigger and better teams scare them into submission. That being said, the Union are not going into this game as total underdogs. The Revolution’s star midfielder Carles Gil has been tentatively training off to the side in the days leading up to this contest. The Union remain one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing just 17 goals, with Andre Blake holding down the defense in goal. A thrilling 3-0 win over Toronto FC earlier in the week will surely have provided the necessary spark to show the first-place Revs that this game will be anything but a cakewalk.

The two teams have met just once before in 2021, but 2020 ensured that they saw more than enough of each other, playing six times over the course of the year. A large majority of those games were gritty and physical, with neither team letting up on the offensive pressure until the final whistle. No matter how docile the Union might have looked in the game before, seeing the Revolution on the other side of the field always seemed to light a fire underneath them. Now, with league standings at stake, that fire will undoubtedly be stoked to a blistering degree.

Blake and his sturdy back line of Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, and Olivier Mbaizo are not really a point of concern for the Union. They’ve been largely consistent in all competitions this season, essentially just doing their job as defenders, and doing it well. They keep the ball out from getting into their own net. The real problem lies in the attacking players in front of them.

The defense can keep as many clean sheets or single-goal games as their hearts desire, but it doesn’t do much good if the offense can’t score on the other team’s net. Anybody that writes about the Union sounds like a broken record at this point—the offense isn’t bad per se, but their decision making and finishing in the final third has been their downfall this season. Games that should’ve been won by wide margins ended in draws, and sometimes even in losses, because in the moments that mattered, the forwards just couldn’t capitalize. They shined against Toronto, but nobody’s hopes should be soaring just yet.

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag, Kacper Przybyłko, Sergio Santos

  • Normally, a certain author would be pushing for at least one of the young guys to start, but this is New England. Jim Curtin needs to put his A team onto the field if they want to have any hope of beating the Revs. This specific lineup has proven to work magnificently in high-stakes situations like this one, so it’s the one Curtin should go with to keep the wins coming to Philadelphia.

Score Prediction: It’s a painful thing to predict, but it’s entirely possible that the Union won’t come out of this match victorious. New England have a strange way of picking apart quite literally any team they face, and the Union most likely won’t be the exception to that. However, the Union rarely go down without a fight. It’ll be a 2-2 draw, but it’ll be a grind.