Bruce Arena is remaining calm on the back of a rare defeat for the New England Revolution and is hopeful his side will get back on track with a victory over Philadelphia Union.
The Revs were undone by a Valentin Castellanos double in last week’s 2-0 loss at New York City FC, ending a run of nine games without defeat. Arena’s men won eight of those previous nine games to build up a hefty lead at the top of the Eastern Conference, while they also remain top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.
With Philadelphia to come at Subaru Park on Friday and a rematch with New York City the following week, Arena is pleased with what he has seen from his players off the field.
“We didn’t play well last week. It was one of those days,” he said. “We were a little shorthanded but that’s no excuse – we’ve been shorthanded many other times before. “We’ve got the best record in the league, so it’s not like everything is caving in at the moment. We’ve got to put that game behind us and take the three points from Philadelphia.
“The team’s responded well. We’ve got a good group here. We understand what we didn’t do well and what lies ahead. We don’t get too high when we win games and we don’t get too low when we lose. It’s all part of the 34-game schedule. Hopefully we’ll be ready to go again against Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia was also beaten last time out as it fell to a 3-1 loss at D.C. United, leaving them fifth in the East with 12 regular-season matches to go.
The Union have won just one of their last nine games in all competitions and head coach Jim Curtin accepts that a much-improved display is required on Friday.
“We got what we deserved against D.C. United, coaching staff, players, all included,” he said. “We have to show a response now on Friday in front of our home fans. We didn’t deserve the points in the last game. There is still a lot we need to work on and improve on.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Philadelphia Union – Paxten Aaronson
The Union are without seven of their international players while Jack Elliott is suspended, so Curtin will have to make full use of his squad depth on Friday. Aaronson is one of those who could be recalled to the side. The teenage midfielder has featured only five times this term, but he was on the scoresheet when these sides met last month.
New England Revolution – Carles Gil
The Revs are also without a number of key men, although they could have their leading assist-maker back to face Philadelphia as Gil returned to training earlier this week. The 28-year-old attacking midfielder set up 15 goals in 17 games before sustaining an injury in July that has ruled him out of his side’s last five games. Any sort of appearance here, even as a substitute, will be considered a major boost.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– New England is unbeaten in three straight matches against the Union beginning with last season’s playoff win (W2 D1). The Revs have never gone four straight MLS matches without defeat against the Union.
– The Union have won only two of their last eight matches (D3 L3) following a 3-1 defeat to D.C. United. Philadelphia has lost consecutive matches just once since the start of the 2020 season, losing to Miami and NYCFC in April-May 2021.
– New England’s nine-match unbeaten run (W8 D1) ended with a 2-0 loss to New York City FC. The Revs have not lost consecutive matches in a single regular season since Arena took over as head coach in June 2019.
– Philadelphia is the only team that has not conceded a goal from outside the box in the 2021 season. Last season, only Miami and the Red Bulls (nine each) allowed more goals from outside the box.
– Three different Revs players are among the 15 in MLS that have contributed to at least 12 goals this season (Carles Gil – 17, Gustavo Bou – 16, Adam Buksa – 12). The only other team with two players on that list is Nashville SC (Hany Mukhtar – 16, C.J. Sapong – 12).