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Why Carles Gil could be the difference-maker for the New England Revolution | Extratime

Throughout the 2020 season, the New England Revolution have seldom had the Designated Player trio of Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa playing at the same time.

Going into their Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One matchup with the Philadelphia Union on Tuesday (TV & Streaming info), head coach Bruce Arena will have all three available, giving an extra layer of intrigue to the bout with the Supporters' Shield winners.

Gil in particular could stand to be a major X-factor for the Revs, as he showed with his crucial opener in New England's Play-In Round victory over the Montreal Impact. As the Extratime crew took stock of this matchup, host Charlie Davies said Gil has the type of next-level talent to be a difference-maker, even against a Union side rightfully favored coming off their Shield-winning season.

"[Gil] is a game-changer, he's a match-winner," Davies said. "If he's playing well and creating opportunities and you have Gustavo Bou firing from all over the field and he's putting his shots on target, they are a different team."

The last time the sides played was on Decision Day, when the Union cruised past the Revs 2-0.

This time around, Davies said he expects the Revs to employ some different tactics in covering for their back line against the Union's potent counterattack. Against the Union, Davies contends, it's all about doing whatever you can to take away space and clog the middle of the park against Philadelphia's dynamic midfielders, which the Revs had done in their matchups earlier in 2020 before deploying a lone defensive midfielder in that Decision Day defeat.

Prior to that, the Revs hadn't beat Philadelphia in 2020, but had kept the games competitive. With their three DPs and a change in approach in how they neutralize Philly's playmakers, Davies said he expects Tuesday's match to be more on the competitive side than it was on Decision Day.

"[New England] have been a team where you had to worry about the midfield," Davies said. "That's what the Revolution have had to worry about. In that last regular season game against Philadelphia, they played with one defensive midfielder, and that was Scott Caldwell, who cannot cover the pitch. He doesn't have the athleticism to play as a lone 6 in this league, and he's never played lone 6 in this league. So then, Bruce Arena next match goes back to having two defensive midfielders behind Carles Gil or behind Gustavo Bou, whoever's going to play that advanced attacking midfield position. And that brings stability to the lineup. You have two players protecting the back four.

"That's why they played against Philadelphia Union every match this year, it's been close other than that last regular-season match because they clogged the middle. And when you clog the middle against the Philadelphia Union, Brenden Aaronson doesn't have that much space, Jamiro Monteiro doesn't have that much space, and Alejandro Bedoya doesn't have that much space. Therefore, that's the heart of the Union. That's where they make their money, in the transition game."

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