Match Preview: Union vs New York Red Bulls
PPL Park – Chester, PA
10/27/12 - 1:30 P.M.
2 Wins – 0 Draws – 4 Loss
- This will be the 7th meeting between these two teams.
- The Union are 2-2 against NYRB at PPL Park.
- The last meeting between these two sides saw the Union lose 2-0 at Red Bull Arena.
OUT: DF Brandon Barklage (L plantar fascia injury); GK Ryan Meara (L hip surgery); MF Lloyd Sam (R knee PCL injury)
OUT: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee menisectomy recovery)
DOUBTFUL: DF Gabriel Farfan (R ankle stress reaction), DF Sheanon Williams (ankle peroneal/Achilles strain)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny Cruz (L big toe sesamoid stress fracture)
PROBABLE: DF Chris Albright (illness)
- New York Red Bulls are currently sitting in the 4th spot of the Eastern Conference with 54 points.
- The highest New York can finish is 2nd and the lowest is 5th. This final game could drastically change their playoff positioning.
- New York has only won 2 of their last 8 games. The Union, on the other hand, have now lost 2 in a row after a good streak of winning 3 of 4.
- The Union have never been swept by the Red Bulls in a season. This has been a year of firsts though, with NYRB winning at PPL Park for the first time.
- Recent rumors in the media suggest NYRB coach Hans Backe is on the hotseat and a disappointing end to the season and a quick playoff exit could mean unemployment for the manager.
- Thierry Henry: As the highest paid player in MLS, he needs to come up biggest when there is the most on the line. Even though Philadelphia is out of the playoff picture, it is massively important that Red Bull avoid the Wild Card game and the possible embarrassment of going out at that stage. The offense goes through the Frenchman and he has more experience in his pinky than the whole Union midfield has combined…even with Brian Carroll in the lineup.
- Kenny Cooper: When the Red Bulls ran over the Union in July, it was obvious there was no one on the Philadelphia back line that could slow down the giant forward. He has scored 3 goals against the Union this season and is the perfect example of the type of forward the Union could really use in 2013. Valdes and Okugo will need to be on their best form to keep him out of the net.
Match Up to Watch:
- Kenny Cooper vs. Carlos Valdés/Amobi Okugo: Things didn’t go so well in this match up in July as the big man buried the Union. There is much less on the line for the Union this time around and the center back partnership should hold nothing back in harassing Cooper.
- Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez: There might not be a pairing of players that Union supporters hate more in the league than these two. They are the perfect example as to the difference between the two teams. Just their personality is enough to make me hate any team they play on, and that is before their on-field antics.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
- Despite the poor performance in Houston, expect Hackworth to have the young guns fired up for this one. It is the last game of the season and the last chance to gain a moral victory for the Philly faithful. The chance to force New York to go on the road in the Wild Card Round should be enough to make any Union player, supporter, or hot dog server salivate.
- Things are not going smoothly in the Red Bull camp. There have been shake-ups in the front office staff and rumors of more changes coming to the coaching staff. Since the off-field issues have started the results have taken a turn for the worse. Will the pressure of the looming playoffs be too much for the high-priced flops from New Jersey?
- No matter what happens I hope the crowd comes out to back the young Union lineup. These guys have been through a lot this season and no matter what happens Saturday they have never given up. Unfortunately, due to work I will not be able to make the game in person, but if you listen closely to the Southwest of PPL Park, you’ll be able to hear me screaming at my TV from Owings Mills, Maryland. COME ON THE U!