A single point against New England? Last time the Union saw the Revolution that might seem like a bad result, but Bruce Arena has turned the ship around and the Revs are now a difficult side to knock off.
Still, Jim Curtin went to the 4-2-3-1 — a formation with which the Union have dominated matches this season — and pulled back a goal as his team controlled the second half on the road.
“I think our guys showed in the second half that we were the more fit team, were able to push things and I think a draw is probably a fair result,” Curtin said afterwards. “Probably could have stole a goal at the end.”
The Union head man pointed to a long layoff, a difficult pitch, and a referee that calls things close as he looked to sort out his team’s first performance of the back half of the season. “You’re on astroturf,” Curtin began. “The balls are bouncing all over the place. The ref called a very tight game. Obviously, we scout every referee if you can believe that. He leads the league in fouls called and he showed that tonight.”
Under Bruce Arena, New England has sought to control the center of the pitch. On Wednesday night, they used both Luis Caicedo and Wilfried Zahibo to lock down the middle in transition, effectively closing Brenden Aaronson out of the match.
Curtin responded by adding Ilsinho and, eventually, Fafa Picault to the mix. This gave Philly more width and they began an assault on the Revs that lasted most of the final 20 minutes. “I think we’ve become almost too much of a second half team,” the head coach said. “Maybe a lot of that is because Ilsinho is such a big part of what we do.
“We can wear teams out in the first half and let him run wild in the second.”
Matt Freese gave up a single goal as the young goalie sought to hold off Carlos Miguel Coronel for the starting job while Andre Blake leads Jamaica at the Gold Cup. Curtin praised Freese before hinting that playmaker Marco Fabián will be back in the mix on the weekend.
“Matt did a good job tonight,” Curtin said, though he didn’t give the homegrown talent a full pass. “A couple crosses he came for, he missed a few.
“I think Marco will play a role for Saturday, for sure,” Curtin concluded. “As a reserve or a starter is yet to be determined. He’s ready to get back with the group and he’s a big part of what we do.”
Fabián and the Union have a quick turnaround against New York City FC on Saturday as they continue their travels to non-soccer stadiums at 7:00 p.m. ET on PHL17.