Foxborough, Mass. — Beating the Philadelphia Union continues to be a tricky proposition for the New England Revolution, which extended its winless run against its rivals to seven games in all competitions in Thursday night’s 0–0 draw at empty and quiet Gillette Stadium.
The match restarted the 2020 MLS regular season for both teams and also served as the two sides’ first game since Philadelphia eliminated the Revolution in the Round of 16 of the MLS is Back Tournament, 1–0, on July 25.
New England pressed high and started with energy inside the first 15 minutes, but struggled to maintain their attack without playmaker Carles Gil (Achilles). Meanwhile, head coach Bruce Arena (suspended) sat in the stands due to a red card he received in the tournament.
“Obviously defending as a group is the main thing and we did that really well tonight,” said midfielder Matt Polster, who made his first appearance with the Revolution since being acquired in July from Rangers FC. “We limited the front three to very little…But a 0-0 draw at home isn’t good enough.”
The Revolution (1–1–4, 7 points) improve to seventh in the Eastern Conference and remain just two points behind the fourth place Union.
New England is now 6–14–6 all-time against Philadelphia, including 3–5–4 at home.
Revolution start strong but held scoreless
Brandon Bye released Gustavo Bou, who fired a hard drive to the far post that Union goalkeeper Andre Blake parried away in the ninth minute for the first chance of the game.
Then, Philadelphia’s Mark McKenzie blocked Cristian Penilla’s solo effort on goal in the 10th minute and the crossbar denied Adam Buksa’s effort from in close off Bou’s feed from the left side.
“He hit the crossbar or post early,” Revolution assistant coach Richie Williams said of Buksa’s performance. “He had some looks, and Philly have very good defenders so it’s not easy, and sometimes they had numbers behind the ball.”
New England mostly threatened with Bou and Penilla, as Buksa played the target striker role. Kelyn Rowe and Matt Polster, handled central midfield, while full backs Alexander Buttner and Brandon Bye pushed into the attack, with the Revolution producing 44 crosses on the night.
“We were eager to get into the attack and start crossing, which is fine and great and we should do it, but I also think we need to find composure in moments to slow the game down in their half and start combining,” Polster said.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) August 21, 2020
Revolution back line earns third clean sheet
Philadelphia eventually played its way into the game, first with Kacper Przybylko’s 36th minute shot at the near post that goalkeeper Matt Turner knocked away and then on the other side of halftime when Turner had to halt Brenden Aaronson’s clean look on net in the 54th.
Matt Real’s shot from outside the box in the 56th minute forced another save from Turner, who clinched his third clean sheet of the season with his performance.
“For the most part we were the better team, created a lot of good chances,” Andrew Farrell said. “If we weren’t creating chances we’d be more frustrated, but the goals will come.
“We’ve improved a lot on defense and did a great job. Philly is a big team. They have strong, quick players that get in behind and they have dynamic attack. It’s about communication and tracking runners from midfield.”
Thursday night’s match marked New England’s first regular season home game since an announced crowd of 15,289 showed up at Gillette Stadium for the club’s home opener, a 1–1 draw with Chicago Fire FC…166 days later.