Match Recap

Recap | Donovan's late goal sees Union complete First Round Sweep of New England


Chris Donovan was the hero on Wednesday night as his goal led Philadelphia Union to a First Round sweep of New England Revolution by a 1-0 margin.

Homegrown Jack McGlynn whipped in a perfect left-footed cross in the 79th minute to set up Donovan’s game-winning goal that netted the Union its third-consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they will face off against FC Cincinnati. Goalkeeper Andre Blake picked up his third postseason shutout with three saves to help the Boys in Blue make even more history with their first ever road playoff victory.

It was a chilling night at Gillette Stadium for Philadelphia Union’s second matchup of their best-of-three series against New England Revolution in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. 

After winning the first contest 3-1 at Subaru Park, Head Coach Jim Curtin had a shallow bench to choose from, missing three consistent starters for the midweek matchup. The club traveled a group that did not include two of it’s premiere players due to injury, namely 2022 Defender of the Year Jakob Glesnes and the team’s leading goalscorer Julián Carranza. Left back Kai Wagner was also absent from the group following an Major League Soccer investigation following the first game that resulted in a three game suspension. 

In his absence, homegrown defender Nate Harriel took over the left back spot with Olivier Mbaizo occupying the right, and Jack McGlynn’s lethal left foot took over corner duties. Curtin fielded Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott as a centerbacks pair, and on the front end of the field, he plugged in homegrown Quinn Sullivan for his first-ever postseason start. Meanwhile Interim Head Coach Clint Peay made one change to his group, turning to veteran keeper Earl Edwards Jr. between the post for the first time since the beginning of October.

The stage was set for a chippy matchup in Foxborough as time ticked down till kick, as two recent games lingered in the minds of both squads. The two clubs finished their regular season at the same venue with New England claiming the Decision Day win by a one goal margin. Philadelphia flipped the script for a home win to kick off their postseason campaign, but both teams have proved their ability to emerge victorious. 

Both teams started with an aggressive attack, with Philadelphia Union finding the first chance of the game in the 5th minute when Elliott passed to José Martinez for a boot from distance, but it was saved by the opponents' returning keeper in Edwards Jr..

New England Revolution found a shot of their own soon after when Gustavo Bou drove toward the net past Jack Elliot in the 6th minute for a close range shot blocked by both a Andre Blake diving and the ref, who ruled the play offsides. 

The game was a physical one for the ensuing minutes, which featured a a series of fouls committed between both teams, culminating in another drive from New England Revolution in the 17th minute. Tomás Chancalay found Mark-Anthony Kaye for a shot blocked Mbaizo near the net. Kaye found another opportunity quickly after, leaping for a header off a Gustavo Bou cross, but missed. 

The Union found a series of shots of their own, starting with Philadelphia’s number 10 attempting to use his head off a McGlynn corner with cross to no avail. José Martinez took a shot from outside the box from an Elliott pass off a set piece, but missed left. Sullivan got Henry Kessler one-on-on in the 26th minute, taking a shot before the Revolution enforced their defense, but his opponent got a foot on the shot, sending it just shy of the net. 

Lowe, Uhre, and Harriel each got a foot on the ball in front of the box in the 27th minute after a McGlynn corner, with the homegrown taking the final rip through his laces nearly volleying it into the net, but instead finding the right post.

Philly gained more momentum as the match grew, with Sullivan again finding space out the flank on a counterattack. The homegrown broke free before cutting inside for a shot that snuck under the screen from Mikael Uhre in front of the net but Edwards Jr. made the reaction save.

The tide of the game took an unfavorable turn for the New England Revolution in the 45th minute, when Mark Anthony-Kaye was shown red after the Video Assistant Referee summoned the head official for possible violent conduct. A quick check of the play resulted in the ejection for the midfielder stepping on Gazdag’s chest while on the ground in attempt to reclaim possession and give the Union a man-up advantage for the rest of the match.

Despite playing down a player entering the second half, New England Revolution remained intense in the win-or-go-home matchup, finding the first chance of the second half in the 48th minute. Bou took a shot from the center of the box after an Andrew Farrell cross, but Blake stopped his effort with another save.

It was the Philadelphia homegrowns leading the attack to start the second half, with McGlynn and Sullivan each nearly finding the back of the net in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

In the 51st minute, McGlynn took a free kick from outside the box, sailing the ball toward the right post where Edwards Jr. dove for the save. Sullivan’s attempt came in the 57th, where he tried to capitalize on another McGlynn cross with a header but found little luck, missing left.

Philly turned up the pressure in the 65th minute with a trio of chances off a corner. After McGlynn’s initial service was cleared halfway by the Revs defense, it teed up a shot for Jose Martinez to unleash a rock from the top of the box that was blocked by a last-second effort. The ball sprayed out to the right side where Lowe and Sullivan went to work for a back-to-back crosses that nearly turned into a goal with the final cross coming within inches of a backpost run by Uhre.

The play would be the final effort by the Danish forward as Chris Donovan and Joaquin Torres brought fresh legs to the Union attack in place of Uhre and Jose Martinez.

While the Union had the numbers advantage, the Revs produced a scary moment for the Union in the 73rd minute as they countered after a foul by Lowe. With numbers in the attack, Gustavo Bou layed off a pass for an Andrew Farrell blast that forced a big save from Blake. Two minutes later the ball was back at the veteran defender’s boots once again as he tried to pick the upper 90 but ended up with a shot on the wrong side of the post.

New England went into full bunker mode with 15 minutes remaining as they tried to hold on and force a game-deciding penalty kick shootout. Forcing the Union sideline to sideline in search of a crack in the middle of the pitch, a foul from Tomás Chancalay on Gazdag. Homegrown Jack McGlynn stepped up and delivered with a perfectly placed cross with his left as it snuck through the Revs defense and right to Chris Donovan for the tap in finish.

With a lead on the road, Head Coach Jim Curtin turned to his defensive pieces on the bench to see out the result with Jesus Bueno and Leon Flach coming on for Sullivan and McGlynn. Needing a goal to rescue their season, New England pushed everything forward but couldn’t find a way through as the Union defense pulled out the clean sheet for Union history.

With the win the Union are headed to their third-consecutive Eastern Conference Semifinal where they will face off against Supporters' Shield winners FC Cincinnati. The winner-takes-all match will take place November 25th or 26th with the official kick off time to be announced in the near future. Be sure to sign up for our official team newsletter so you are one of the first to get information about official #StrikeGold Watch Parties.

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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