This weekend marks the Revs' second visit to PPL Park this season. Last time it was a 1-0 loss that added to New England's worries about their 2014 campaign. But now there's a glimmer of hope; a 5-game unbeaten streak sends the Revs to Phildelphia with a hearty stride of confidence. Will it be enough to secure three points for the first time ever in the Union's house? We spoke to Eugene Rupinski of SB Nation's Brotherly Game to get the DOOP point of view heading into Saturday's match.
TBM: Things were looking pretty gloomy for the Union up until Wednesday night with their gutsy 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. We beat them, too, so we're not that surprised--they ain't all that. But how crucial is that win for Philadelphia and how do you see it impacting the squad moving forward, specifically for their match-up with the Revs on Saturday?
ER: That win was as huge as they come. The club hadn't won in 9 games - almost two full months. The fans loudly booed John Hackworth as he left the pitch after losing to DC United, and the pressure was really on for the club to perform. To snap a streak like that at the MLS Cup Winner's home stadium is absolutely massive and has to be a confidence builder for the squad. I'd bet the team goes into the match with New England with a huge chip on their shoulder.
TBM: No Fabinho, no Maurice Edu, and no Corben Bone; Are you worried about the Union's lineup for Saturday against the Revs, or has John Hackworth put together enough depth to withstand these types of absences? Who do you expect to make a big impact on Saturday (in other words, who should New England watch out for)?
ER: I think losing Maurice Edu hurts more than Fabinho and certainly more than Corben Bone. Edu has been a solid contributor in the midfield, so his presence will be missed. Fabinho has been platooning with Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis at full back, so the question there is who will be at center back with Williams being forced back outside. Bone has been a periphery player, logging only a couple of minutes this season so him sitting out a game (or more) is no big deal. I think the key player to watch will be Cristian Maidana. He has been spotty at times but really showed up against Sporting Kansas City. If he plays like that more often this becomes a much more dangerous team.
TBM: It was starting to sound like John Hackworth was truly in the hot seat. Has the Union's mid-week win over Kansas City dispelled those worries, or are Union fans still not convinced of Hackworth's ability to succeed with the talent available to him?
ER: Philadelphia fans are known for being vocal with their displeasure. I think the fans are happy that the club did as well as it did against SKC but it will take more than one win in ten to get the boos to stop. If we can put together a good run of results then I think the pressure will lessen significantly.
TBM: Tell me about the Union's swap deal with Montreal for Andrew Wenger. It seemed like this trade was really out of the blue. Are Union fans feeling a little betrayed to have lost McInerney? What's the impression of Andrew Wenger been thus far from a Philadelphia point of view?
ER: I don't think the fans here feel betrayed. Since starting out last season at a blistering pace, Jack hadn't been producing and had reportedly become a problem in the locker room. Andrew has come in and shown he can be a more complete forward than McInerney, and although both forwards can be mercurial it seems like Wenger's swings are less drastic than Jack's.
TBM: And, as always, give me an expected starting XI for Saturday as well as a predicted scoreline.
ER: Lineup prediction:
Scoreline Prediction: New England has been hot but has historically not done well in Philadelphia. Couple that with the huge win on Saturday I'll go with a 2-1 Union win.