For the sixth time since mid-July, New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena is preparing his team to face the Philadelphia Union. For the sixth time since mid-July, he's fielding questions at a pre-match (virtual) press conference about the Union.
It's deja vu all over again.
The Revs advanced past the Montreal Impact in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs to set up yet another meeting with the Supporters' Shield-winning Union. New England have lost four of the five meetings in 2020, with the other being a draw. Arena even joked after his side's win over Montreal that Philly may give them the Shield for all their help in the Union topping the standings.
Still, New England have the chance to salvage the narrative and get some revenge, even if Arena isn't looking at it that way.
“I don’t look at it as redemption," Arena told media. "This is obviously an important game in the playoffs. It could be anybody that we’re playing. It’s not redemption, it’s a game that now we enter into the last eight teams in our conference. We want to win the game whether it’s Philadelphia or somebody else. It’s a game we want to win. I wouldn’t call it redemption.”
The last meeting between the teams was on Decision Day, in which the Union won 2-0 and clinched the Shield. It was a day of celebration for Philly but a day to forget for the Revs.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner revealed the disappointing performance sparked a number of lively training sessions during the international break before facing the Impact. Now they're hoping for more of the same against Philly.
"We all understand how it looked at the end of that last game [against Philadelphia] and we were all disappointed with ourselves," Turner said. "I think a lot of us had a good, long look in the mirror, myself included, after that game and we’re looking to right the ship on Tuesday.”
There will be no secrets between the two clubs given the familiarity, though Revs star Carles Gil has only been available for one of the previous five meetings.
“I’ve never played six times against any opponent in such a short period of time, so it’s definitely a new experience for me," forward Adam Buksa said. "We know everything about this team. We don’t really need to watch any other games. For Philadelphia, we know every player, the way they play – but so do they. I think games in playoffs are way different compared to games in the regular season. You either win or go home so you need to be more focused, more patient."