The New England Revolution get to try and bounce back from an old-fashioned stomping by the Red Bulls last weekend by attempting to get their first-ever win over the Philadelphia Union tonight at Gillette Stadium. The Revs are a combined 0-5-3 against Philly, with a 0-2-1 home record to boot.
For a team with a non-existent offense, this isn't the match the doctor ordered. The Revs have scored just one goal in three home matches against the Union, with the lone tally coming from Ilija Stolica during a loss in 2010. The defense won't have it much easier; Philly's scored ten goals in seven games, led by Rev-killer and all-around goal-machine Jack McInerney, whose six goals triple the Revs' entire output for the year.
Today's Q&A is with Justin Feinberg of the Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Philadelphia Union blog. In case you forgot, the Revs already played the Union once this year, at PPL Park, losing 1-0. You can have a look at the Q&A we did with Scott Kessler for that match to get a sense of where their season is going.
TBM: Hasn't been all that long since the last time we spoke, but it seems like the Union have gone from strength to strength as the young season has continued. If you could pinpoint one thing that's most different this year from last year and has contributed to that success, what would you say that one thing happens to be?
JF: I would say the biggest difference between the Union last year and the Union this year is their depth at striker position, although they also made adjustments to their central defense and midfield. The Union brought back fan favorite Sebastien Le Toux and added Conor Casey in the off-season, essentially replacing Lionard Pajoy and Danny Mwanga. Even though Le Toux has been struggling a bit this year (more on him later), the Union are much more potent on attack this year.
TBM: Jack McInerney was already a Revs killer, but now it's starting to look like he's maturing into a bona fide scoring machine. Not only is he putting the ball away, but he's doing it with skill and panache, too. How important has he been to this team, and how important will he continue to be going forward?
JF: Jack McInerney has been very important to this team. He gets some criticisms from some Union fans who think he relies too much on poaching, but there is so much to like from Jack McInerney. Most startlingly of all, he is only 20-years old. In that sense, the Union should rely very heavily on McInerney going forward. According to Union writer Dave Zeitlin, In Peter Nowak's last 22-regular season games, McInerney played a total of 201 minutes. Jack Mac, as he is affectionately known in Philly, has shined under Union manager John Hackworth. Some national media types, including Ives Galarcep, are fawning over the possibility of McInerney possibly playing for the USMNT in the future.
TBM: Last time we did this, your opinions concerning Sebastien Le Toux were surprising to some of us on the outside. He's only added one more assist to his resume since that game, which seems to indicate that the Union attack no longer revolves around him as it did in years past. Where does he fit into Philly's tactical scheme now, and has he been effective?
JF: Le Toux's role has been greatly marginalized as the season has worn on. He now finds himself as a 3rd or 4th attacking option, as Hackworth has taken a liking to starting McInerney and Casey at the striker position in a 4-4-2. Le Toux can be a very streaky player, but outside of a first half goal against Sporting Kansas City in the opener, he has done little to impress this season.
TBM: Which Revolution player do you think the Union fears most on the pitch? You'll have to forgive us for taking some liberties with the term "fear."
JF: He had a few whiffs in the first meeting this season, but if he can get his finishing together this time around, I am going to say Jerry Bengtson.
TBM: Give us your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
JF: Hackworth seems to like using the 4-4-2. My guess of the line-up is Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz, Michael Farfan; Conor Casey, Jack McInerney. The Union have never lost against the Revs in the history of their franchise, and I predict that will continue. I am going with another 1-0 Union win.