Revolution-Orlando City Preview
Bruce Arena never doubted his New England Revolution team could be a threat in the playoffs as they prepare to take on Orlando City in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
There have been shocks throughout the East so far in the postseason - but perhaps most notably in Philadelphia, where the Union went down to New England.
Philly had won the Supporters' Shield and won every regular season home game in 2020 yet were beaten 2-0.
The result might have been considered an upset by many, but Arena was not among them.
The coach, who emphasized the importance of having a settled squad at this time of year, was asked if his team could now move forward with more confidence against Orlando.
But mention of the word "underdogs" prompted a response.
"I didn't hear that word spoken once in preparing for the game," the coach said. "I don't think those kind of comments motivate athletes at a professional level.
"We knew what kind of game it was (against the Union), we knew the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents, and we know what we're capable of.
"We went into the game believing we could win the game - and we did."
New England might have claimed an eye-catching win, but it lacked the same drama as Orlando's remarkable shootout victory over New York City.
The Lions had star goalkeeper Pedro Gallese sent off when he believed he had won the match with a penalty save, before an attempted substitution was overturned and Orlando were then briefly declared winners prematurely.
They advanced in the end, though, with defender Rodrigo Schlegel saving a spot-kick.
Coach Oscar Pareja said: "We will prepare the next game, because this doesn't stop, but what happened (against NYCFC) will keep in my memory forever."
Orlando City - Brian Rowe
Despite some chaotic officiating, Rowe did not get the chance to be Orlando's shootout hero, that honor instead incredibly going to Schlegel. But it will be Rowe who lines up in goal this time after the appeal against Gallese's dismissal was rejected. The Peru keeper is a key man, so these are big gloves to fill.
New England Revolution - Carles Gil
Injuries limited Gil to just four regular season appearances this season, but he has made up for lost time in the playoffs, with a goal and two assists in two wins. "He's an outstanding player," Arena said after the Philly game. "I've had a lot of good playmakers and Carles is right up there."
- This will be the first meeting of the season between Orlando City and New England. The Revs are unbeaten in their past four matches against Orlando (W2 D2) and have lost just two of their 11 all-time meetings (W4 D5).
- The Revolution have never won an MLS match in Orlando, losing twice and drawing four times. Both teams have scored in all six meetings in central Florida, including a pair of 3-3 draws in the past two meetings at Exploria Stadium.
- Orlando have lost just three of their 19 matches (W9 D7 - including their penalty shootout win over New York City) since the MLS season resumed in August. Their only losses since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament have been against the two expansion sides (twice at Inter Miami, once vs Nashville).
- New England's 2-0 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday was their sixth win in 22 all-time away postseason matches (D3 including a penalty shootout loss, L13). The Revs have won multiple away matches in a single postseason just once in club history, recording wins at Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls in their 2014 run to MLS Cup.
- The Union became the 14th different team Arena has eliminated from the playoffs in his MLS career. Arena has won a record 34 postseason matches, eight more than any other coach (Sigi Schmid - 26) and more than twice as many as any other active coach (Bob Bradley - 15).
Updated November 27, 2020