Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls Preview
This Saturday is one of the days that fans of both the Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls have had circled on their calendar for quite some time now. The Union head to Harrison, New Jersey on a two game winning streak (three if you count the friendly against UNAM Pumas this past Saturday) while the Red Bulls limp back hoping to right the ship.
The Union (2-1-0, 4th in the East) gutted out two very ugly wins over two very bad teams – Colorado and New England. Their only real test of the season so far was against a Sporting Kansas City team who have been disappointing this season. SKC beat the Union 3-1 in the home opener at PPL Park.
New York (0-2-2) have been bad, however a closer look at their record suggests they might not be at the bottom of the standings for too long. Red Bull tied Portland 3-3 in the Rose City to start the season before losing 2-1 to San Jose thanks to Roy Miller’s well-documented meltdown in the waning moments of extra time. They then rebounded to tie a very good DC United squad 0-0 in North Jersey before losing 1-0 last week to Montreal. A couple of smarter plays, a better look at what might have been a goal against Bill Hamid and DCU, and RBNY is right there in the thick of things.
I expect to see the Union with the same lineup they have run out over this season, with MacMath in goal with the defense of Gaddis-Parke-Okugo-Williams in front of him. This has been a real strength for the Union, and barring injury or collapse I don’t see it changing any. I’d also expect to see the midfield of Gabriel Farfán-Carroll-Lahoud-Michael Farfán. This should be a decent midfield, as the defensive nature of three of the four (Michael Farfán being the lone offensive exception) will do well to contain the potent Red Bull offense. Look for Sébastien Le Toux and Jack McInerney to pair up top.
Red Bull may opt to start recently acquired free agent Kevin Hartman in goal, however Luis Robles has proven solid and manager Mike Petke may be hesitant to make a switch. Expect the Red Bull defense to be Heath Pierce-Markus Holgersson-Jámison Olave-Kosuke Kimura, although Kimura started at left back against Montreal with Pierce and Holgersson rotating right with Olave not playing. Right back Brandon Barklage will miss the match after picking up a red card in the 74th minute against the Impact, and the aforementioned Roy Miller is away with the Costa Rican National Team. The midfield should be Jonathan Steele-Dax McCarty-Juninho-Eric Alexander since Tim Cahill will be with the Australian National Team against Oman in World Cup Qualifying action. Expect Fabian Espindola and Péguy Luyindula to start up top, as Thierry Henry is out indefinitely with a sprained left MCL.
I think that even though the Union haven’t played well lately and they have never beaten Red Bull in New Jersey, that this may be the time. Red Bull have been worse than the Union as of late and have been forced to make more changes due to injury, suspension, and international duty. All of this will prove too much to overcome against a club who is proving that sometimes it is indeed better to be lucky than good. Philadelphia Union 2-1 New York Red Bull