CHESTER, Pa. – Jack McInerney and Sébastien Le Toux both freely admit that their early-season partnership up top for the Philadelphia Union still isn’t where it needs to be.
But three games into the 2013 season, the two strikers have linked up well in at least one department: corner kicks.
For the second straight week, McInerney scored the game-winning goal off a Le Toux corner kick, leading Philly to a hard-fought 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday at PPL Park.
“To be fair, when we started practicing restarts earlier in the season, I don’t think anyone on the staff had the idea that Sébastien would be the guy taking corners,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “But to his credit, he’s been really consistent and serving a good ball.”
And McInerney continues to show his skill at finishing, especially late in games. His 76th-minute goal Saturday came on the heels of his 79th-minute winner at Colorado last week.
And in New England’s last visit to PPL Park – at the end of the 2012 season – the 20-year-old striker headed in the game-winning goal with just 17 minutes remaining in the match.
“I don’t know what it is,” McInerney said. “I can’t tell you. It’s just happening at the right time for me.”
It helps for McInerney that he’s been partnered up top with Le Toux in a 4-4-2 over the past two games. The two players were teammates in 2010 and 2011 before Le Toux was traded away, and they each know the other’s tendencies.
As with all early-season partnerships, theirs is still growing – but the growth is certainly there.
“You see for sure from last week to this week, the movement was better for both of them, they were looking for each other, they held the ball up so the other one was running off, they’re more in sync,” Hackworth said. “I still think we can get much better at that. We have a lot of work to do there. But at least from my point of view, you start to see that happening.”
If nothing else, the Le Toux-McInerney corner kick connection is a positive sign for a team that typically struggles to score on set pieces.
“Just the fact you guys say we don’t score a lot on set pieces – maybe all of the guys who are in the box want to show you they can score goals,” Le Toux said.
“I think we’re starting to combine more and I’m glad he scored on that corner,” the Frenchman added about playing alongside McInerney. “It’s good for our relationship.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.