The Philadelphia Union beat the New England Revolution four times in 2020 en route to winning a first-ever Supporters Shield title, launching Jim Curtin's club into unfamiliar territory as an MLS Cup favorite. But led by a Carles Gil masterclass, the Revs stunned the Union 2-0 at Subaru Park in Round One of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Revs rode a pair of goals set up by their Spanish playmaker in the opening 30 minutes to advance to the Conference Semifinals where they will face Orlando City SC Nov. 29 at Exploria Stadium. It is the second major Eastern Conference upset after No. 2 seed Toronto FC were ousted by expansion side Nashville SC, 1-0 in extratime.
Four minutes later, New England doubled their lead with Gil again pulling the strings. With acres of space to attack, Gil found Tajon Buchanan, who danced around Kai Wagner in the box and buried his shot inside the far post.
Gil nearly put the game away in the 52nd minute but his cheeky chip from 20 yards out caromed off the crossbar.
Jim Curtin used the Ilsinho card for the start of the second half, hoping the Brazilian could conjure up another supersub performance.
Matt Turner was pressed into making a routine save of a Kacper Przybylko headed just outside the six-yard box off a Jamiro Monteiro set piece service in the 64th minute, only his second save of the match.
But that would be the last quality chance for a Union side that crashed out of the playoffs at the first hurdle.
- THE BIG PICTURE: No coach in MLS history has more postseason wins than Arena, who led the Revs to a road playoff win on the anniversary of their last such win — against the New York Red Bulls in the 2014 Conference Finals. The Union picked the worst time possible to play their worst match, looking flat throughout. Influential midfielders Jose Martinez and Brenden Aaronson were subbed off by the 62nd minute. Not exactly the swan song Aaronson envisioned.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Gil’s sublime set-piece service set the tone for the upset.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: All hail Carles Gil, who proved (if there were any doubts) he’s one of the MLS elite. He played a major role in both goals and was cruelly denied a brilliant goal on this chip.
- PHI: End of season
- NE: Sunday, Nov. 29 at Orlando City SC (3 pm ET | ABC in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada) | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals