New England Soccer Today

From United to the Union

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Heading in a crucial stretch where points are at a premium, the struggling New England Revolution are looking to build on the positives from Wednesday night’s 4-1 exhibition loss against Manchester United as they look to turn their season around.

Franco Coria should get the start at center back on Sunday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

The Revs (3-8-7, 13 points) will have their first chance to show what, if anything, they learned from that match when they take on the Philadelphia Union (7-4-7, 28 points) on Sunday.

“First half [against Manchester United] was good enough to compete against any team in the MLS and hopefully we can kind of take that to the next game,” said Revs midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

For 45 minutes the Revs starting backline managed to hold the Red Devils superstar filled attack scoreless. It wasn’t until the entire back four as well as starting goalkeeper Matt Reis were substituted at halftime that Man U began to show their dominance.

“If we play the way we played in the first half [against Manchester United] for 90 minutes against Philadelphia I’m sure we can get something,” said Feilhaber.

Philadelphia hardly has strikers the caliber of Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov. In fact, the Union, despite sitting just a point out of first in the Eastern Conference, is only fifth in the conference and 13th in the league in goals scored with 21. Shutting down the Union shouldn’t be too formidable a task.

What could be a problem for the Revs, however, is finding the back of the net themselves. The team has only scored one goal from the run of play since April 23rd and that didn’t change on Wednesday. And while the Revs have the league’s worst offense, the Union has the second best defense in the league.

But there were some positives from the Revs on Wednesday on the offensive end as well, even though it didn’t show up on the scoreboard.

“The positive thing about [Wednesday’s friendly] was we moved the ball well and that’s where we’ve been struggling: to keep possession, to create chances, to move the ball on teams in MLS,” said Revs captain Shalrie Joseph. “[On Wednesday] we did it against probably the second-best team in the world and we can tip our hats for that and take a little positive out of that even though we still lost 4-1.”

Unfortunately, the Revs will have to do those same things on Sunday without Joseph. The star midfielder will miss Sunday’s match due to suspension from yellow card accumulation.

He’ll be joined on the unavailable list by Ousmane Dabo (right knee irritation), Kheli Dube (Whiplash), and Ryan Cochrane (suspension).

Stephen McCarthy is the likely replacement for Joseph, though the Revs could also opt to go with a more offensive 4-4-2 formation and insert Zack Schilawski or Kenny Mansally alongside Rajko Lekic at striker. Franco Coria, who stated against Manchester United, is the obvious replacement for Cochrane at center back.

Regardless of what lineup the team uses, the Revs desperately need three points on Sunday if they are to turn their season around and start clawing their way back to postseason contention.

“At the end of the day, we have to be better over the weekend and take what we did [Wednesday] in the first half and transfer it into the MLS season and MLS games and try to be better every week,” said Joseph.

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