Timbers-Union Preview

BY foxsports • July 19, 2013

Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux produced in a big way with Philadelphia Union leading scorer Jack McInerney away on international duty.

The 20-year-old forward is now set to return.

Philadelphia will try to extend its home unbeaten streak to six Saturday night when it goes for its first victory over the Portland Timbers.

Many thought the oft-injured Casey was on the downside of his career when the Union (8-6-6) acquired him in the offseason, but the veteran striker has been a pleasant surprise, totaling seven goals with four assists. Casey, who netted the final tally in a 3-1 home win over Chivas USA on July 12, had two goals and two assists as McInerney missed three games on Gold Cup duty.

"To be honest, when we added Conor, everyone was excited knowing he was coming off of an (Achilles) injury - but it was tough to gauge where he'd be at," Union defender Sheanon Williams told the league's official website. "He's come out and has been really, really good for us. I think he's done everything the coaching staff has asked for and more."

So has Le Toux in his second stint with the Union. The Frenchman, who had 26 goals and 20 assists for Philadelphia from 2009-10, had a goal and two of his league-best nine assists in McInerney's absence.

The return of McInerney, fourth in MLS with 10 goals, adds another proven weapon to a side that's netted 17 of its league high-tying 32 goals in the last eight games.

The Timbers (8-2-9), though, are tied for the fewest goals allowed in MLS with 18.

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, whose eight shutouts equal the most in the league, made four saves last Saturday when Portland defeated Los Angeles 2-1. Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored in second-half stoppage time to help the Timbers rebound from a 1-0 loss at Columbus on July 7 that ended their 15-match league unbeaten streak.

"Winning teams, when you need more, you get more,'' first-year coach Caleb Porter said. "Losing teams shrink.''

The Timbers will have All-Star midfielder Will Johnson back after his run with the Canadian national team was cut short due to a stomach illness.

"Obviously, the Gold Cup was tough, no two ways about that," Johnson, tied with Ryan Johnson with a team-best six goals, told the Timbers' official website. "I wish I could have been able to stick around a little longer and give my full self. ... But obviously coming back, I'm excited to get back with the guys and obviously every game from here on in is going to be a battle."

The Timbers, 2-1-7 outside Portland, are just one of three clubs (Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City, MLS-best Real Salt Lake) to have outscored their opponents on the road (14-12).

Philadelphia has outscored opponents 12-3 during its 4-0-1 stretch at home.

Portland improved to 2-0-1 in this series with a 3-1 home win March 12, 2012. Jean-Baptiste opened the scoring with his first MLS goal.

These sides played to a scoreless draw in their only contest in Chester, Pa., on Sept. 10, 2011.

share story