New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #PHIvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Hoping that two bye weeks over the last 21 days won’t stall their momentum, the surging Revolution will face the struggling Union at PPL Park on Saturday.

The Revolution enter Saturday’s contest unbeaten in their last four, their last a lightning-delayed affair in which they scored goals on each side of midnight to stake a 2-0 win over the Dynamo. Not to be outdone, the Union can lay claim to a morale-boosting victory of their own after they grabbed a 1-0 win over the Impact last weekend, albeit under less threatening skies at Stade Saputo.

It’s fair to say Saturday’s match features two sides both hungry for a full plate of points. Something’s gotta give. So what questions surround the locals in particular heading into the first of nine straight conference clashes to close out the regular season?

1. Who gets the start opposite Diego Fagundez? At this point, it might as well be a coin flip. During the Revolution’s four-game unbeaten run, Kelyn Rowe has been superb, creating chances and capitalizing them to equal effect. But after picking up an injury in the latter stages of the Revolution’s win over Houston, he may or may not be 100 percent ready to go. One player who appears to be in top form (and fully fit) is Juan Agudelo, who scored off the bench two weeks ago. If Rowe is ready to go, he figures to get the start, but don’t bet against the possibility of seeing no. 17 opposite Fagundez in Philadelphia if it’ll create a better matchup in Jay Heaps’ mind.

2. How long will Jermaine Jones go? The 33-year-old midfielder stopped short of declaring himself 90-minute fit earlier this week, which may or may not be a bluff by someone who played with a sports hernia all of last year. So you just never know. Take into account the lack of action the Revolution have seen this month, and we may very well have the perfect scenario for Jones to get his first full run since late-May. Based on how difficult it’s been to get results at PPL Park, the Revolution may just need a full 90 from Jones to pull off the victory.

3. What will the backline look like? The subplots may be in shorter supply this week thanks to the pair of weekly breaks the Revolution received this month. Thanks, MLS schedulemakers. However, one particular development worth watching is which fullbacks Heaps goes with against a Union side that prides itself on wingplay. In their first match at PPL Park, Kevin Alston and London Woodberry started opposite of each other, a move that added speed and width on the attack. This time around, though, we’ll probably see Jeremy Hall and Chris Tierney, although it wouldn’t be outside the realm if Alston returns to the lineup in place of Hall.

4. Will the Revolution remain mentally sharp after their second bye in three weeks? After enduring two lengthy weather delays to beat the Dynamo in their last match, it appears that the Revolutions have shaken the mental lapses that plagued them earlier this summer. Even so, the challenges aren’t behind them completely. No team – especially one that’s in form – gets excited at the prospect of only playing 90 minutes over a 27-day span. Training may keep the players on their toes, but there’s simply no substitute for the real thing, which the locals must be mentally ready for once they step onto the pitch.

5. What must the Revolution do avoid an upset? Watch the flanks, pure and simple. The Union may not boast the most prolific attack, but when fullbacks Fabinho and Raymond Gaddis join the offense,  it usually spells trouble for opposing defenses. To negate what Philadelphia does when it stretches the field, Scott Caldwell has to get in sync with his outside backs, while Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves have to smother the likes of C.J. Sapong and Sebastien Le Toux. It won’t be easy, but then again, nothing ever is when the Revolution set up shop in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

Leave a Reply