The Inside Doop: Union more than just McInerney

The Inside Doop: Union more than just McInerney

June 24, 2013, 5:45 pm
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CHESTER, Pa. -- If Jack McInerney gets called up to the U.S. national team for next month’s Gold Cup, the Philadelphia Union will lose the league’s top goal-scorer for most, if not all, of July.

Luckily, Conor Casey is doing his best to ease any concerns of such a big absence. And Sebastien Le Toux and Antoine Hoppenot are trying to help, too.

For the second straight league game, the Union earned a 3-0 win without McInerney scoring, smashing the Red Bulls behind two goals from Casey, an insurance tally from Hoppenot and an all-around great offensive game from Le Toux.

Let’s take a closer look at the big win, as well as what lies ahead for the Union, in this week’s “Inside Doop.”

Three thoughts from Saturday’s game
1. While McInerney has been getting most of the attention this season for scoring 10 goals -- and rightfully so -- Casey is quietly having a very good season as his partner up top. Or, as manager John Hackworth puts it, he’s been doing it “sneakily all year long.” Against the Red Bulls, he continued to show that he’s the team’s best aerial threat when he headed home a great cross from Sheanon Williams to put Philly ahead early. And on his second goal, he showed off some surprisingly nimble moves in the box as well as a calm ability to finish. Don’t look now but only nine players in MLS have more goals than Casey, who’s scored five times in just 737 minutes.

2. The Union were certainly fortunate that the Red Bulls were without the services of key players Tim Cahill, Juninho and Jamison Olave. And they were even more fortunate when the Red Bulls went down a man in the first half on a questionable red card given to Lloyd Sam. But it’s important to remember that the Union were still able to dominate the game when the two teams were at even strength -- an impressive accomplishment when you consider the Red Bulls hadn’t lost (or tied) the Union in their last five contests.

3. Matt Kassel only played one minute in Sunday’s game but the appearance was still an important one. Not only did the midfielder make his Union debut, he also played against the team that inked him to a Homegrown deal two years ago, before then deciding to dump him. Interestingly enough, Kassel is believed to be the first-ever Homegrown player (a local player signed directly from the team’s academy system) to play against the team that signed him. Kassel certainly has a very good pedigree, so if he can build off this appearance and get onto the field against other teams too, the Union will suddenly find themselves with more depth in the midfield.

Three questions for the week ahead
1. No question is bigger than whether McInerney will get called up to the U.S. national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. For a 20-year-old player, this would be a huge deal and put him on track to play for his country in the 2018 World Cup. For the Union though, it would obviously leave them with a big hole to fill and some questions to answer. Would they move Le Toux from right midfield back to forward while McInerney is gone? Would they start Hoppenot? Would deep sub Aaron Wheeler become a key player up top? The good news is that even if McInerney is called up to the national team, he’ll play in Philly’s next game: a big home tilt vs. FC Dallas at PPL Park on Saturday.

2. Let’s not forget about another Gold Cup absence. On Sunday, Keon Daniel played his final game with the Union for a few weeks before departing for Gold Cup duty with his native Trinidad and Tobago. Daniel has certainly had his share of critics this season but he’s still been a valuable player in the Union midfield and did many things well in Sunday’s win. With Daniel gone, Kleberson will likely slide into a central midfield role, in front of Brian Carroll. But Kleberson has missed the last few games because of injury and has struggled to return to full health, meaning Michael Farfan could return to the role he thrived in last season. Or what about -- gasp! -- Roger Torres as the team’s principle playmaker in the middle of the field?

3. While the Union have had some clunkers in the past month, they’ve also managed to string together three straight shutouts at home, which is a franchise record. They’ve also outscored the opposition, 7-0, during that span. Can they keep that going against one of the league’s best teams in FC Dallas with another national TV audience looking on? If they can, they’ll certainly get a lot more of that “respect” word they like to throw around.

Stat of the week
Sunday’s win marked the first time the Union had ever scored three goals or more in consecutive league matches.

Quote of the week
“I’m an Arsenal fan and I’m French so I grew up watching him play. He’s been my favorite player. He’s the No. 1 player I’ve always looked up to. Just to be on the same field as him and to get his jersey after the game, it’s incredible for me.” – Antoine Hoppenot, on exchanging jerseys with Thierry Henry after Sunday’s game

Player of the week
This could easily go to Le Toux for providing such great service all game but the nod goes to Casey, who scored a pair of goals and, if not for a close offside call, could have had a hat trick.