The New England Revolution are coming off a pair of outstanding postseason victories, but there's no time to reflect on what they've accomplished.
Another tough matchup awaits this Sunday as the Revs will take on No. 4 seeded Orlando City SC in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. It'll mark the first meeting between the two clubs all year.
New England head coach Bruce Arena knows his team will have its hands full with star midfielder Nani and the rest of Orlando City SC's roster.
“It’s the first time we’ve met this year although we’re in the same conference, if you can figure that out. It’ll be an interesting match," Arena said. "They’ve obviously had a very good year. Their leader is Nani, but he has an excellent surrounding cast. I think [Daryl] Dike has done well over the second half of the season. [Chris] Mueller has had a very good year. Their midfield is very solid, good playmakers, good six and eight – really, a solid team.
"Certainly, they’ll miss Ruan in their back line as well as their goalkeeper [Pedro Gallese]. That’s a tough blow for them, but they’re a team that’s played enough games without those two players as well. It’ll be a difficult game, and we look forward to the challenge.”
The Revs are red-hot entering Sunday's match. A Gustavo Bou game-winner in the 95th minute propelled them through the Play-In Round, and that win was followed by a shocking victory over the top-seeded Philadelphia Union.
To veteran midfielder Teal Bunbury, the key to a trip to the Eastern Conference Final will be to not get complacent.
“The first part of that I think for us is that preparation has been key. Being locked in, especially in these playoff games is crucial," said Bunbury. "I think we can go over a lot of tactics, we can go over how the opponent is going to play, but I think it comes down to a mindset, guys working for each other, and, as we’ve seen in the past two games, that’s how we’ve been playing.
"The key for us against Orlando is sure we want to know what their tendencies are and how they like to play but overall we’re going to be focused on things we can control – our attitude, our work ethic, and fighting for one another. And about Nani, he’s a world-class player. He brings a lot of experience, has a feel for the game, loves to attack, and maybe he doesn’t get back and defend as much so we might be able to exploit that a little bit. Overall, he’s a great player and a great player for that team and I think Orlando is going to be a tough opponent."
As thrilling of a run it's been so far for New England, a major challenge lies ahead. Sunday's semifinal matchup between the Revs and Orlando City SC is set to kick off at 3 p.m. on ABC.