New England Revolution

How the shorthanded Revolution plan to adjust Friday against Philadelphia

Mary Schwalm
Brad Knighton (above) will fill in as goalkeeper with Matt Turner playing for the US national team.


Coming off a loss Saturday at New York City FC that snapped a nine-game unbeaten streak, the first-place Revolution face a familiar foe Friday night in Philadelphia.

The Union are unbeaten in 11 of their last 13 matchups with the Revolution, although New England scored a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia last November in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Both clubs will be without key contributors, with the Union missing seven players because of international call-ups and the Revolution missing three MLS All-Stars — goalkeeper Matt Turner, forward Adam Buksa, and winger Tajon Buchanan — for the same reason.

Revolution captain Carles Gil, who has been sidelined by a muscle injury since July 31, returned to training this week, but the MLS leader in assists will be inactive Friday.

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Brad Knighton, who will start in net with Turner called away to play for the US men’s national team, said other players are making the most of their opportunities with the stars out.

“I think it’s been great,” said Knighton, a 15-year pro who allowed just six goals during a five-match stint when Turner was away from the team earlier this season.

“Guys [are] getting minutes that normally don’t get minutes within the last two months when games are coming thick and fast in July and August and making this final push here,” he said. “Guys have to be ready to step up. The games mean more toward the later part of the season.”

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New England (15-4-4, 49 points) currently holds a 14-point lead in the Eastern Conference and is on pace to break the club record for points (59) while potentially challenging the MLS record of 72.

The Revolution got midfielder Matt Polster (knee) back from a two-week absence in Saturday’s loss, and the 28-year-old is expected to make his 100th MLS start tonight.

While midfielders Andrew Farrell and Tommy McNamara are the only players to have appeared in every game for New England this season, the Revolution continue to demonstrate depth in the face of shifting lineups, and an ability to respond to losses, as they’ve yet to drop two contests in a row this season.

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“I think we have responded in a positive way, because I think when we look at this group and we look at ourselves, we realize what kind of group we have,” said Polster.

“I think we realize in a season you’re not going to be perfect. It’s very difficult, but we know what kind of group we are and we know we have a lot of talent [on] this team. We know we can respond on the weekend and we expect to do that with 3 points.”

With his attacking cohorts out, Revolution leading scorer Gustavo Bou will look to find his rhythm after a rare drought of three games without a goal. Yet it won’t be easy to crack a Philadelphia defense that has allowed just 23 goals all year.

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“In years past, we’ve been that team that’s trying to solidify a playoff spot and trying to move our way up the table,” said Knighton.

“We’ve done a very good job this year of setting our standards high and staying at the top of the table for most of the season.

“We have a little bit of that cushion, but we’re not going to rely on that. These next 11 games are going to be very difficult. We have to come in with the right mentality and take care of business.”

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