Decision Day is rapidly approaching as Philadelphia Union looks to solidify their postseason seeding at the New England Revolution on Saturday night free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV! Head Coach Jim Curtin’s squad needs a win as Saturday's contest has monumental implications for the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Philadelphia Union enter Gillette Stadium with fresh legs and a fortified roster after two full weeks of rest due to the latest FIFA international break. Although several players returned from national team duties with what Curtin described as ‘knocks’, he expects to have most of his group available for their final regular season push, with the exception of José Martinez who will be out due to yellow card accumulation.
Philly last played on October 7th against Nashville SC at Subaru Park, where both teams battled to a scoreless draw. In their final regular season home appearance, Philadelphia added just one point to their total, leaving them unable to move up the Eastern Conference standings regardless of Saturday’s result. Although FC Cincinnati and Orlando City SC have a firm hold on the first and second seed, Philadelphia’s game against New England is still of paramount importance as it’ll help decide which teams secure home field advantage in the opening round of the postseason.
This year, the first round of the playoffs will take the shape of a three-game series over the course of three weeks, and the team with the higher seeding will earn home field advantage, hosting two of the three games. After that, the higher seeded teams will host through the remaining single-elimination rounds.
“We want to finish as high as possible, obviously, to try to have as many games in Subaru Park as we possibly can,” Curtin said.
“You always want to go into the final part of the season with some momentum. We haven't been beaten a lot, but we know we've had a lot of ties that maybe could have turned into wins, and this is another test for us before we go into the real season. You know, the games of elimination, the games of consequence.”
As for New England, the club has new leadership on the sidelines with MLS NEXT Pro turned interim Head Coach Clint Peay looking to lead his group from fifth place into the top four. Similarly to Philadelphia, the Revs last took on Nashville SC, but they have just one week's rest after falling 3-2 to the Southern squad on October 14th.
Tomás Chancalay impressed in the match, securing a brace with goals in the 49th and 71st minute. The 24-year-old Argentinian forward on loan from Racing Club has scored six goals through just 10 games with the Revs, proving his offensive impact quickly after joining the group mid-july. Chancalay sits near the top of the Revs top goal scorers list, joining company with veteran forward Bobby Wood and Spanish Designated Player Carles Gil.
“Whenever we get together with New England, it's always a battle,” Curtin said.
“When you talk about them, it starts with Carles Gil, one of the best players in the league. We have to do a good job limiting where he touches the ball.”