Bruce Arena is expecting Philadelphia Union to turn up and play direct, attacking football against his Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution side.
Two of the East’s top three teams meet on Sunday, though the Revs sit nine points clear of third-place Philadelphia after 18 games each.
“We prepare for a good game, prepare for two teams that’ll play,” said Arena.
“Philadelphia is fairly direct, they have good finishers, a good midfield and certainly one of the best goalkeepers in the league.”
Arena does have a concern over the fitness of star playmaker Carles Gil, but was typically unforthcoming as to whether the Spaniard would be available.
“He was off to the side. I know nothing about 2015 and 2017, I don’t know what his injuries were in the past, but we’re watching Carles closely and we’ll move him along appropriately,” Arena said when asked about Gil.
“At this point in the season, we don’t have any limitations on players besides the fact that we rotate to keep them fresh.”
Union coach Jim Curtin, meanwhile, had praise for Daniel Gazdag, who played a key role in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win over Toronto FC last time out.
“I thought Daniel was excellent tonight,” Curtin said. “And look, I thought he was excellent against Chicago too; on a different night three of those chances that he has if they go in he’s a hero in that game as well.
“We gave him the task of getting around Michael Bradley and making it difficult on him. I thought he really took that information well and really made it a hard night for their key player in the middle part of the field.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New England Revolution – Adam Buksa
Adam Buksa has scored an MLS-high five goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this season.
Philadelphia Union – Daniel Gazdag
As well as tying up Bradley, Gazdag assisted the Union’s opener and scored their second goal from the spot in the win over Toronto.
KEY OPTA FACTS
· The Revolution have won only one of their last 12 matches against the Union (D3 L8, including MLS is Back knockouts and playoffs), though the one win was a 2-0 victory to eliminate the Union from the 2020 playoffs. Philadelphia is unbeaten in four straight trips to Foxborough (W2 D2) for the first time in the club’s MLS history.
· New England’s four-match winning streak ended with a scoreless draw against Nashville on Wednesday. The Revs have failed to score only twice in 18 matches this season, both against Nashville SC.
· Philadelphia is winless in six straight away matches (D4 L2) after consecutive wins in Chicago and D.C. in May. The Union haven’t had a longer winless run on the road since a 16-game drought from May 2017 to May 2018 (D4 L12).
· Buksa has scored more times after the 75th minute (5) than he has in the first 75 minutes this season (3).
· The Union scored two set piece goals in their win over Toronto on Wednesday, taking their total to 10 set piece goals for the season, second-most in MLS behind only New York City FC. New England ranks third with nine set piece goals in 2021.