In need of an overhaul to their backline Saturday, the short-handed New England Revolution face a tall order in claiming their first road victory of 2019 when they face the Philadelphia Union.
The Revs (2-2-6) have been completely erratic as the first third of the season draws near a close. Brad Friedel’s team has given up two or more goals in six of its 10 matches and completely melted down in last Saturday’s chaotic 4-4 draw at Sporting KC.
The Revolution took a 3-1 halftime lead on the strength of Juan Caciedo’s first-half brace and a third by Juan Agudelo, but things started to go sideways before the hour when Brandon Bye picked up his second yellow card. New England, though, still led 4-2 in the 66th minute through DeJuan Jones, but Sporting KC pegged the Revs back for a point with goals in the 70th and 83rd minutes.
To compound the frustration of dropping two points, defender Jalil Anibaba was sent off in the 90th minute after his second booking, one of seven New England accrued from referee Baldomero Toledo. Friedel is also waiting on the availability of center backs Michael Mancienne and Antonio Delamea after they were sidelined last weekend with injuries.
“Sometimes you have to – and you will – come together at the times that you probably least likely think that you will,” Friedel told the club’s official website about the personnel issues on the backline. “If we have to bit-piece a back four, we will do, but one thing’s for sure – whoever’s out on that field, they’re going to give 100 percent effort.”
New England has taken two points from its four road matches this season and is 2-13-10 outside Gillette Stadium since the start of last year.
Philadelphia (5-2-3) is one of three teams atop the Eastern Conference on 17 points and has the best goal difference among D.C. United and Montreal. The Union completed a sweep of expansion FC Cincinnati last time out, winning 2-0 on Wednesday on goals by Kacper Przybylko and Fafa Picault seven minutes apart in the second half.
Defender Olivier Mbaizo, getting the start with Kai Wagner suspended, set up Przybylko with a weighted pass over the defense the Polish striker drilled inside the left post.
“Just a great ball from Mbaizo and just an easy header,” Przybylko told the team’s official website. “I want to just thank you for this great ball. This ball, I wish every strike was this easy.”
If there was a downside to Philadelphia’s fifth win in seven matches, it was coach Jim Curtin needing to turn to his third goalkeeper of the season as Carlos Miguel Coronel entered the game as a late first-half substitute for Matt Freese, who appeared to suffer an abdominal injury making a save early in the contest before later coming out.
Union No. 1 Andre Blake missed his second straight match with a groin injury suffered in the April 20 win over Montreal, and there is no timetable for the Jamaica international’s return. Coronel will be between the sticks for this match after Union coach Jim Curtin announced Friday that Freese will miss at least four weeks with a torn oblique muscle.
The team also added Charles Lyon to the roster for this match as an MLS Pool goalkeeper.
Philadelphia swept all three games last year and recorded 2-0 and 1-0 victories at home. The Union are 6-1-2 in their last nine versus the Revs in all competitions.
(Kacper Przybylko photo courtesy Philadelphia Union official Twitter account)