Carles Gil and the top-seeded New England Revolution's pursuit of their first MLS Cup will begin in earnest when they host fourth-seeded New York City FC in an Eastern Conference semifinals matchup on Tuesday night in Foxborough, Mass.
New England secured its first-ever Supporters' Shield after arecord-breaking regular season. The Revolution shattered numerous league records, including the MLS record for most points in a regular season with 73.
Now the Revs start their journey in the playoffs as they try to return to the MLS Cup Final for the first time since 2014, when they fell to the Bruce Arena-coached Los Angeles Galaxy.
"I think all that type of pressure is good for me, for the team because it's why we had an amazing season this year," said Gil, who was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year after leading the league with 18 assists. "So yes, we know that we'll have a difficult game (Tuesday) against a very good team. But we've trained hard these three weeks and we're ready."
Last postseason, the Revolution advanced to the conference final before bowing out to the eventual champion Columbus Crew in Arena's first season as New England's coach and sporting director.
The 70-year-old Arena was named the MLS Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year for a record fourth time on Monday after tying the legendary Schmid for the most regular-season victories in league history with 240.
"Maybe 30 years ago, I knew everything. Today, I realize that I don't, so that's a big change for sure," Arena said. "But I have changed. I think I'm a little bit more patient than I was in the past. But I've enjoyed coaching every bit of the way, so it's been a great experience."
New York City FC will look to carry over its momentum from a 2-0 win over Atlanta United FC on Nov. 21 in a first-round playoff matchup.
MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos scored his first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs goal in the 49th minute before Alexander Callens netted the eventual winning goal four minutes later for New York.
New York will have had eight days off between games after defeating Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Revolution will contend with a 22-day break that could lead to a slow start on the field.
"They've had a long time to prepare for the playoffs and they're a really good football team," New York coach Ronny Deila said. "(Their break is not) in my mind right now. It's more about getting us to be the best we can be, and then we're going to have a good game."
Defender Anton Tinnerholm (ruptured Achilles tendon) and midfielder Keaton Parks (lower-body injury) will both miss the match for New York.
New York is 6-9-4 in the all-time series against New England. This season, the Revolution won two of the teams' three meetings. New England was a 2-1 winner over New York in the teams' most recent match on Sept. 11 in Foxborough.
--Field Level Media