FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Early this season, Jack McInerney was one of Major League Soccer’s hottest scorers, notching 10 goals through the Philadelphia Union’s first 14 games. More recently, Conor Casey has been the Union’s most potent scoring threat, registering seven of his nine goals in the past 11 matches.
The New England Revolution will keep close tabs on both when the Union visits Gillette Stadium on Sunday night.
“The combination of the both of them is difficult to match up with,” said center back A.J. Soares. “They’re both good individually, but they also have a good pairing. They get a lot of goals whenever you don’t take care of them. We’re just going to watch the film and study them a little bit more.”
The dynamic between Casey and McInerney often works like a classic “big man, little man” strike partnership. Casey – a hulking presence at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds – serves as a primary target, while the elusive McInerney plays off him looking to pick up the scraps.
But McInerney isn’t the only Union attacker who benefits from Casey’s target play. Philadelphia’s midfielders are also quick to latch onto second balls, and the Revs know they’ll need to be wary of them on Sunday night, as well.
“You can’t just say, ‘Hey, there’s their guy.’ I really think you can’t just hone in on a McInerney because he drifts similar to (Chicago Fire forward Mike) Magee in that he finds the elusiveness,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “The more you mark him, the easier he finds another area to go to.
“I find Conor Casey’s been excellent for them in his holdup play. Then the players that run off of those players are dangerous at all times; Keon Daniel, Danny Cruz. So they’re a relentless team in what they can do off the ball off those key forwards.”
Shutting down the Union’s versatile attack will be a key focus on Sunday night, but not the only focus. Primarily, the Revs want to focus on their own strengths as they look to replicate last weekend’s 2-0 win over the Fire.
“We’ll worry about them a little bit, but mostly we’ve got to take care of our own game,” said Soares. “If we go out there and we possess the ball like we did against Chicago and we create chances, we should win the game.”