Kacper Przybylko looks to continue his solid recent form Saturday when the Philadelphia Union host the New England Revolution.
The Polish-based striker with German roots has been an integral player since arriving last season, totaling 20 goals in 36 regular-season matches. Przybylko shook off an off-performance in the knockout rounds of MLS Is Back – he failed to score in Philadelphia’s run to the semifinals – with four goals in his last three contests.
Przybylko scored on either side of goals by Homegrown Players Brenden Aaronson and Matthew Real on Sunday when Philadelphia (5-2-3) cruised to a 3-0 road victory over the New York Red Bulls. The Union’s defense also stifled the Red Bulls, not allowing a shot on target as Andre Blake recorded his fourth regular-season shutout and fifth overall.
“When you get in at halftime [leading] 1-0 on the road, the message is always whoever gets the next goal is going to win this game,” Union coach Jim Curtin told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “You kind of can put a little bit of fear in your group when you say things like that, but I think our group recognizes the urgency and the importance of getting that second goal. It’s the best defense that there is.”
Despite last weekend’s win and having claimed four points versus the Revolution already this season with a win and a draw, Curtin is weary ahead of the match, saying Friday, “I do see this game against New England with all the coming off a big result, a big three zero win and a complete performance, as a bit of a trap for our guys. So we’re guarding against that.”
Forward Sergio Santos, who was forced off in the first half-hour Sunday with a hamstring injury, appears unlikely to feature in this match, which would most likely leave Andrew Wooten as Przybylko’s strike partner up front.
New England (3-2-5) notched its second win in seven games (2-1-4) with a 2-1 victory at Chicago on Sunday when Teal Bunbury bagged a brace on either side of halftime. His second goal on 54 minutes snapped a 1-1 tie for the Revolution, who have won both their road games in Phase One of the league’s reworked schedule.
Tommy McNamara, who was acquired in the offseason from Houston, drew praise from coach Bruce Arena for his assist on Bunbury’s first goal and also for his improved play of late.
“Tommy is a good soccer player,” Arena told the Revs’ official website. “Good passer, technically pretty good – something that we need a little bit more of in our lineup. He gave us that tonight. He’s now played in three games and he’s contributed in each game, so I think he’s been a good addition to our team.”
The Revolution also welcomed back a familiar face Monday when they acquired Lee Nguyen from Inter Miami. The midfielder had 51 goals and 49 assists over 191 appearances for New England from 2012-18 and will be eligible to play after completing a league-mandated quarantine period after he made the 1,500-mile drive from Miami to Boston.
“I feel I can help them in different ways, whether it’s playing the 10 or the 8,” the 33-year-old Nguyen said. “But everyone has seen my game and I feel like I can help facilitate and give chances to these guys up top, while also being able to help with composure in possession and fluidity with our attack.”
The teams played out a scoreless draw in New England on Aug. 20, with the Union allowing just one shot on frame. Santos’ goal on 63 minutes separated the sides in the round of 16 at MLS Is Back as Philadelphia recorded a 1-0 victory.
The Union have won five straight at home over the Revolution by a combined 15-1 count after a 6-1 thrashing last year in which Santos had a second-half brace.