PREVIEW- The reining Supporters’ Shield champions, a.k.a. the Union will travel to Gillette Stadium where they will face the team to beat. This is of course New England, after Seattle’s recent drop in form it is the Revs who lead the way. New England have never actually lifted the Supporters’ Shield or MLS Cup for that matter but this side under Bruce Arena look perfectly capable of hoisting silverware.
Revs Union Preview: Supporters’ Shield leaders versus Supporters’ Shield holders
Retaining the Supporters’ Shield is a rare feat, the only three times it has happened came back-to-back-to-back which is fascinating. D.C. United first did it in 2006 and 2007 before Columbus followed them and then the Galaxy and who was the coach of the latter? It was indeed Bruce Arena! He lifted two MLS Cups and a Shield with D.C. in the late 90s and three MLS Cups and two Shields between 2010 and 2014 with the Galaxy. Not to mention three Gold Cup titles with the USMNT, a trophy which of course went their way again this year.
It is Philadelphia who currently hold the Supporters’ Shield though. This was the Union’s first major honor in fact so whilst this duo are big hitters currently, they lack the silverware to back this up. It was a great side under the much-fancied Jim Curtin that tasted success last year but is the departure of Best XI duo Mark McKenzie and Brendan Aaronson taking its’ toll? They joined Genk and RB Salzburg respectively and meanwhile, the Union are already nine points behind their opponent for this weekend coming.
Breaking down the matchup:
Onto the fixture at hand as, after an underwhelming 0-0 draw in midweek, the Supporters’ Shield leaders will be looking to bounce back. The Revs hosted Nashville and it ended goalless despite their dominance on home soil. On the other hand, the Union put three goals past Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono in the first half in an impressive outing. Jakob Glesnes, Daniel Gazdag and Sergio Santos were on the scoresheet in the 3-0 victory at Subaru Park.
Prior to that it was a run of three games without a win for Philly. It was two draws and a loss to Nashville, then they beat D.C. 2-1. Next, they lost to Orlando and drew with Inter Miami and the Fire. This was followed by the win over Toronto and now here we are, a ropey run of form pretty much cancelling out their strong start to the season.
The two sides in question met in the round of sixteen at the MLS is back tournament and the outcome of that clash says a lot about their history. Sergio Santos scored the only goal of the game for the Union who lost in the semis to eventual champions Portland, and they have often had the number of the Revs.
Philly have won two and drawn two of their last four visits to Gillette Stadium. New England have won just once in their last 12 which is staggering really, seven of the other 11 going the way of the Union. That being said, New England enjoyed four wins on the bounce prior to their tie with Nashville and have generally been very effective.
The Revs boast the player and young player of the tournament from the Gold Cup and both will be back in action very soon. Canadian flyer Tajon Buchanan is more likely to play in this having returned earlier than USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner who of course has a medal around his neck now. Defender Henry Kessler joined Turner following the injury to Nashville’s Walker Zimmermann but he hardly featured. Jon Bell and Luis Caicedo are still struggling with injury whilst Buchanan is the talk of the town, a deal apparently being agreed for him to join Club Brugge.
On the flipside, Andre Blake and Cory Burke have also returned for the Union. The pair represented Jamaica at the Gold Cup but they were defeated by the eventual champions, Turner and co of the US. Anthony Fontana has been the main injury concern of late for Jim Curtin but with the experience of Ale Bedoya and the form of Leon Flach in that midfield, the Union haven’t suffered all that much as a result of his absence.
As previously mentioned, this fixture has often gone the way of the defending Supporters’ Shield champions but the Revs have defied the odds on a number of occasions already this season. Carles Gil doesn’t need to be mentioned in every preview because we are used to his explosive form now and with the leading candidate for MVP in their ranks, a home win for New England wouldn’t surprise even the most ardent Philly fan.