Preview: #PHIvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

The New England Revolution (0-1-0, 0 points) will look to bounce back from last week’s 4-0 drubbing in Houston when they travel to Chester, Pa. to take on the Philadelphia Union (0-0-1, 1 point) at PPL Park on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m.

The Revolution, who will be seeking the franchise’s first win in Philadelphia, was completely overwhelmed by a deliberate and dangerous Dynamo side early in last Saturday’s season opener, which saw New England suffer a 4-0 loss. Following the debacle, the Revs were anxious to turn their attention to the Union, which they’ve beaten in their previous pair of matchups by a combined score of 7-1.

Unlike the Revs’ substandard start, Philadelphia is coming off an impressive effort at Providence Park, where the Portland Timbers needed a last-gasp equalizer to deny John Hackworth’s side of their first victory of the season. Though the they didn’t come away with three points, there was plenty to be proud about in the Union locker room after holding off one of the league’s most potent sides on their home turf for over 90 minutes.

Union Forward Jack McInerney, who netted the goal for Philadelphia last week following a corner kick from Cristian Maidana in the 65th minute, has become New England’s nemesis at PPL Park in recent years. Out of New England’s past three visits, McInerney netted a late goal in each to stun the Revs in a trio of losses. It’s safe to say that his form will be a signficant talking point when Jay Heaps prepares this week’s game plan.

But McInerney isn’t the only threat the Union pose this weekend. During the offseason, the side acquired U.S. Men’s National Team fixture Maurice Edu on loan from Stoke City, a move that would’ve significantly bolstered the midfield on its own. But the front office didn’t stop there. They also added Argentine midfielder Cristian Maidana, who drew plenty of praises across the league for his solid play in the opener, and Frenchman Vincent Nogueira.

The Union will be without injured defender Sheanon Williams, a Boston native, for the home opener and they will be counting on the likes of Amobi Okugo and Austin Berry to counter New England’s goal-hungry offense.

On the other side of the pitch, the Revs will be without veteran defender Kevin Alston, who left the opener with a hamstring injury in the 20th minute. Darrius Barnes is the likely candidate to fill at right back should Andrew Farrell, who was upgraded to questionable on this week’s injury report, not be healthy enough to go. Another player who is nearing a return from injury is versatile midfielder Lee Nguyen, who also missed the season opener.

Winning the battles in the midfield on Saturday will be critical on Saturday for the Revs in order for them to beat the revamped Philadelphia Union. Suffice to say, the Revolution must do their best to come out of the gate strong and set the tempo early, lest they fall victim to the same mistakes that undermined them in Houston last week.

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About Benson Petit-Clair