This Saturday the 1-3-2 New England Revolution take on the 3-2-2 Philadelphia Union at Gillette. To help preview the game and give a Union perspective, I interviewed Dan Walsh, editor and founder, of The Philly Soccer Page.
Its been a good start to the season for Philadelphia with only one defeat in your last seven games. Have you been surprised with how the team has played?
No. Their wins have come against 8th, 9th and 10th place teams. They’re beating the bottom feeders, drawing with the mid-table teams, and losing to the good ones. I expected them to be mid-table, and that’s where they are.
Jack Mac and Conor Casey have been terrific this season. What has impressed you the most about their play?
Conor Casey is the target forward Philadelphia has been seeking for years. He has played the position perfectly, providing good hold-up play, a secondary scoring threat, and an aerial ball-winner. McInerney continues to be lethal with his finishing. If you give him an opportunity, he won’t waste it.
Other than Jack Mac and Conor Casey, what other Union players should we keep our eye on?
Michael and Gabriel Farfan. The Union play better and more dynamically when both are in the game. If one or both start the game on the bench, expect the Union to play bunker ball, parking the bus, sitting deep and simply waiting for New England to make a mistake that Philadelphia can seize upon with a counterattack.
What Revs player(s) are you most concerned about this weekend?
Jerry Bengston. New England has a hard time getting him the ball in good position to score. But when he gets it, he’s dangerous, as he has shown in international play.
Can we have a prediction on the score?
0-0. New England has just two goals this year. They probably won’t throw numbers forward like D.C. United did last week. And without that, Philadelphia won’t have much to exploit on the counterattack. Union manager John Hackworth has been happy with road draws, and he’ll likely accept one here as well.
Thanks again to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope he is wrong about the score. The New England fans are starting to get a little restless with Jay Heaps and another game without a goal will increase the pressure of Revs GM Mike Burns to make a change at head coach.
Heaps is a nice guy, but there are no signs that New England is getting better under him. You cannot point to an improvement in the style of play, or development of players under Heaps, and say that the Revs are moving in the right direction and the results will start to improve.
The visit of the Union does not bode well for Heaps who has a record of W0 L3 D1 versus Philadelphia. I did not see anything against the Red Bulls last week that gives me confidence that Heaps will pick up his first victory against Philadelphia this week.
Prediction: New England 0 Philadelphia 1