By now, the objective should be clear for the New England Revolution as they head into Saturday's contest against the Philadelphia Union: Stop Jack McInerney.
In the last four clashes between the conference rivals, the Union's Homegrown striker has scored the deciding goal on three occasions to keep his club undefeated all-time (5-0-3) against the Revolution.
Although McInerney's presence should put the Revolution on notice, he isn't the only threat the hosts face at Gillette Stadium this weekend.
Sebastien Le Toux has played a supporting role in the Union's run of success against the Revolution. In the last clash between the clubs on Mar. 16, Le Toux launched the cross that McInerney converted into the game-winner to hand the Revolution their first loss of the 2013 season.
While McInerney -- who also leads the league in scoring with six goals -- and Le Toux could pose a problem on Saturday, the Revolution also have to be mindful of a smart Philadelphia midfield that features Brian Carroll and Michael Farfan. Both have the savvy and smarts to tip the possession scale in the Union's favor.
Keeping the Union in check has been a difficult proposition for the Revolution. That will be especially true this weekend, with starting center back AJ Soares unable to go due to a hamstring injury he suffered last week in New York.
Of course, keeping the Union off the board is only half the battle.
In the Revs' first six games, they've found the back of the net only twice -- and one of those came from a Brandon Barklage own goal at New York last week. Making matters worse is the fact that they've failed to muster a single shot on goal in two games this season.
Jerry Bengtson has uncovered a few chances early this season, but has only scored once. Clearly the Honduran striker's production must improve if the Revolution are going to stand any chance of getting a result on Saturday.
But Bengtson can't do it alone. He'll need service from the likes of Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez to test Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. In last week's match at New York, the Revolution were able to put together their most promising offensive performance due in large part to the cohesion between the midfielders and forwards.
The central midfield partnership of Kalifa Cisse and Andy Dorman also rejuvenated the attack last week. Cisse put together a series of strong passes, while Dorman exploited the Red Bulls' lax form in the final minutes of last week's contest.
Philadelphia comes into Saturday's contest unbeaten in five of its last six, and will undoubtedly carry a visible swagger on the Gillette Stadium pitch. And the Union's documented success against the Revolution will only serve to build their confidence even further.
But there is a sense of growing urgency for the Revolution, who've gone winless in their last five. It's still early in the season, but if they don't start picking up maximum points, then it could foreshadow another long summer in Foxborough.