Philadelphia Union visit New England Revolution on Sunday night

The Philadelphia Union face a tough test on Sunday night in a few ways.

Jim Curtin's men face the first-place New England Revolution, but the Union manager also has to look ahead to having his squad fully rested for Thursday's first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinal against Club America.

The first task at hand is getting a result of some sort against the Revs, no matter which players are out on the field.

Sunday's match can be heard on Fox Sports The Gambler. The Union Pregame Show presented by DraftKings Sportsbook begins at 5:30 p.m. ET with Sean Brace and Joe Tansey. JP Dellacamera and Danny Higginbotham will be on the match call at 6 p.m. ET. Kevin Kinkead joins Brace and Tansey for the Union Postgame Show after the final whistle.

Philadelphia and New England played to 1-1 draw in their first meeting of the 2021 regular season on May 12 at Subaru Park. Teal Bunbury scored an 85th-minute opener and Kacper Przybylko answered with an 88th-minute equalizer.

The one major difference from that matchup is the Revs will likely be without Carles Gil, who is the front-runner for MLS Most Valuable Player.

Gil was training on the side during the week, and even if he plays, it does not appear that he will be at full strength. Gil has two goals and a league-leading 15 assists. He has played a role in 17 of the 33 goals scored by Bruce Arena's squad. The Spaniard has one assist in four regular-season matches against the Union.

Philadelphia could be without some of its first-team players on Sunday as well due to squad rotation ahead of Thursday's trip to Estadio Azteca.

Typically, Curtin tries to rotate no more than three or four players from game-to-game, even at the end of a three-game, eight-day stretch, which is what the Union are at the end of yet again.

Add in playing at altitude in the CCL on Thursday and the wear and tear that the Gillette Stadium turf puts on bodies, you have a situation where Curtin may be forced to break his rotation tendencies.

Stuart Findlay is due for a game at center back to relieve one of Jakob Glesnes or Jack Elliott. Matt Real could slot in at left back for Kai Wagner, or on the left side of the midfield diamond.

Homegrown players Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan have started already this season and are among the top candidates to fill in the midfield spots. Anthony Fontana cleared the heading part of his concussion test, so he could come off the bench along with Paxten Aaronson and Ilsinho.

The Union could even give Andre Blake a rare night off when he is available for the club and throw Matt Freese in goal. The argument in favor of Blake is having at least one experienced player on the back line to keep organization.

Keeping Blake in the starting XI also allows the Union to have their best shot-stopper on the field and there is a greater potential for him to keep the game scoreless in an attempt to steal a point.

Olivier Mbaizo will likely start at right back because Alvas Powell is dealing with a knock he picked up while at the Concacaf Gold Cup with Jamaica. Powell is more likely to be available for Thursday than for the clash against the Revs.

At least one of the three forwards will have to cycle into the lineup as well. With Jack De Vries still in concussion protocol, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos and Cory Burke all can't get the night off. Santos is probably the ideal man to rest because his pace and style of play may be affected most by the turf in Foxborough.

The Union will still try to put a competitive squad on the field. This is where the depth at certain positions needs to be flexed.

New England is not at full strength, so it is possible for the Union to snag a point if they play a sturdy defensive game over 90 minutes.

Philadelphia is 2-0-2 in its last four trips to Gillette Stadium. It played to a scoreless draw in the first game after the MLS is Back tournament and beat the Revs 2-1 on October 19 in two of their five meetings in 2020.

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