On Wednesday, Philadelphia Union head north to Jordan Field at Harvard University to take on New England Revolution in the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled 7:30 PM EST and the game will beed via YouTube.
The Philadelphia Union no stranger to Open Cup Pressure
Philadelphia is no stranger to playing in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup as head coach Jim Curtin's side has played in three other quarterfinals (2012, 2014, 2015). Philadelphia has also have finished as runners-up in this tournament the last two years.
How have New England Revolution fared in Open Cup?
Despite winning the tournament in 2007, New England has a much more spotty record in the Open Cup. The Revolution made the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, New England was knocked out of the tournament by the Union and then interim head coach Curtin. In 2012 and 2015, the Revs were knocked out before the quarterfinals by two USL sides, Harrisburg City Islanders and Charlotte Independence.
New England has had two tough matches in the Open Cup so far. In the Fourth Round, the Revolution needed an extra time goal to defeat NASL side, Carolina Railhawks, 1-0. New England also came from behind in the Round of 16 to beat NASL’s New York Cosmos, 3-2.
While not a Major League Soccer regular season matchup, fans should not expect either side to roll at a subpar lineup.
In their only MLS matchup this season so far, Philadelphia dominated New England, 3-0, behind a first half C.J. Sapong brace in their home opener at Talen Energy Stadium.
What could Philadelphia's lineup look like Wednesday?
Curtin has always believed in playing a full strength lineup in this competition. In the backline, fans should expect Keegan Rosenberry, Joshua Yaro or Ken Tribbett, Richie Marquez and Fabinho to make up the back four in front of goalkeeper Andre Blake.
In the midfield, it is likely that Tranquillo Barnetta and Brian Carroll or Warren Creavalle will make up the double pivot behind the likely wingers, Chris Pontius and Sebastien Le Toux, as well as central attacking midfielder Roland Alberg, Sapong will certainly get the start at striker barring any pre-game injury.
Barnetta and Sapong will be players to watch for Union
The key player to watch for will be Barnetta. Tasked with playing as a box-to-box midfielder, Barnetta will be the engine for the Union on both sides of the ball. The importance of his ability to start the attack with a pinpoint pass down the wings cannot be downplayed. Without the primary pass to the wings, where the Union like to focus their attack, it makes their tasks of advancing to their consecutive Open Cup semifinals difficult.
Also, keep an eye on Sapong. In their first match this season against Revolution, Sapong had two goals and also drew a penalty kick. He has proven to give New England’s backline problems, so expect New England head coach Jay Heaps to make a concerted effort to keep Sapong in check.