Open Cup Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

BY MARK FISHKIN
STAFF WRITER

After a gritty, sweaty road win in Orlando, New York returns home to face the Union in a cup match surrounded by scheduling intrigue.

Today’s match is a perfect storm for the Red Bulls, with brutal heat and humidity and an undesirable kickoff time that will be played in front of few fans.  Still, Jesse Marsch has said repeatedly that today’s match is the most important test in a week filled with international friendlies.  Philadelphia will be without an important cog in the suspended CJ Sapong, but the Union has only conceded once in two cup matches this year. Today’s tilt may finally turn these two clubs into proper rivals.


Match Information:
Wednesday, July 21st at Red Bull Arena, 4:00p ET kickoff
Video streaming: NewYorkRedBulls.com
Audio streaming: http://www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio
Referee: TBD

2015 US Open Cup Results:
New York: d. Atlanta Silverbacks 3-0, d. New York Cosmos 4-1
Philadelphia: d. Rochester Rhinos 0-0 (pks), d. DC United 2-1


New York’s front line v the Union defense
Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Fabinho, Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, and Raymond Gaddis (and John McCarthy)

BWP continues to lead the Red Bulls in scoring, though he was only able to generate two shots in a seventy-minute performance on Saturday night in Orlando.  Wright-Phillips has only scored once against the Union in his MLS career, netting the only New York tally in a 3-1 loss at PPL Park last July. The Philadelphia defense has played decently of late, conceding five times in the club’s last four matches, including a home shutout of Portland on the 11th. Of course, the Union shut out the Red Bulls in Harrison back on May 24thFabinho had an assist in that match, and scored the winner in the Union’s cup win over DC.  Marquez is out with concussion symptoms, so Philly stalwart Sheanon Williams will get the start.  White has been in and out of the lineup all season, and Gaddis made his 100th league appearance for the Union over the weekend.  With starting keeper Silvestre ineligible, John McCarthy will start. McCarthy, last season’s USL Keeper of the Year, hasn’t played since a May 2nd home loss to TFC.

Advantage: New York


Philadelphia attack vs. the Red Bulls’ backline:
Fernando Aristeguieta vs. Roy Milller, Matt Miazga, Damien Perrinelle, and Connor Lade (and Luis Robles)

Without the suspended Sapong, Philadelphia will turn to Venezuelan Fernando Aristeguieta (3G) who hasn’t played since June 3rd in Chicago due to an ankle injury. The Union DP has three goals this season, but none since an April 5th match against Sporting KC. New York’s posted its fifth league shutout of the season at Orlando on Saturday. Roy Miller has returned from an ignominious defeat in the Gold Cup on Sunday to his familiar left back slot. Young Matt Miazga continues to get raves for his performances, and Red Bulls fans should takes long looks at the Clifton native, who surely will look to transfer after the season. Damien Perrinelle had a goal called back over the weekend, and has avoided picking up a card for two straight matches. Connor Lade has started New York’s last three matches, and the Red Bulls have conceded only three times over that stretch. Still Lade had a very rough time dealing with the Cosmos’ Restrepo in the Red Bulls’ last cup match. To the surprise of no one, Luis Robles will start this afternoon.

Advantage: New York


The Midfields
Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Lloyd Sam vs. Eric Ayuk Mbu, Vincent Nogueira, Christian Madiana, Brian Carroll, and Sebastien LeToux

In Philadelphia’s first-ever win at Red Bull Arena on May 2nd, the Union effectively beat New York’s high pressure for two second-half goals five minutes apart. Christian Maidana was the architect for Philly, providing assists to both Nogueira and the suspended Sapong that day. New York had 65% ball possession in the match, and hit woodwork twice, but couldn’t break Philadelphia down. McCarty and Felipe must manage Maidana if the Red Bulls are to prevail. The Union will be without starter Andrew Wenger, who is out with concussion-like symptoms suffered at Toronto. 18 year-old Cameroonian Eric Ayuk Mbu will start on the left. New York’s midfield wilted in the Orlando heat on Saturday night, but not before Sacha Kljestan’s bomb.  Mike Grella, who like Kljestan scored against the Cosmos, will look to add his second cup goal this campaign. LeToux, now 31, is having a quieter season (2G/4A) than last (12G/7A) in MLS.

Slight Advantage: New York


The Coaches:
This afternoon will be a Chicago Fire reunion behind the benches, as Jesse Marsch, Jim Curtin, Red Bulls assistant Chris Armas, and Union assistant Mike Sorber all won Open Cups with the club as players, and New York’s Denis Hamlett won as a Fire assistant coach. While the Union has been inspired in their cup run to date, Philadelphia’s league PPG (1.05) is tied for 18th while New York is seventh.

Advantage: New York


Intangibles:
New York surely wants payback for the home loss on May 24th. The soccer gods are frowning on the Red Bulls’ decision to schedule International Champions Cup matches during an Open Cup window.  While surely a perfect storm of circumstances have led to today’s 4pm kickoff during New York’s first heat wave of the summer, the Red Bulls organization rolled the dice and fans of both teams have lost.  That’s a shame, given that New York is three wins away from its first Open Cup.  Philadelphia will bring 600 supporters to the match, who may be, barring lots of early dismissals from day jobs, the largest and loudest contingent at Red Bull Arena.  Today’s kickoff will occur at the hottest point in the day, 88 degrees, and the match may be played during a light rain.

Advantage: Even


Prediction:
At even strength, this match would be more even. However without Sapong, Wenger, Marquez and Silverstre from the lineup, and with a rusty Aristeguieta at striker, it’s hard to see the Union executing its game plan effectively. Philly has been strong in the back of late, but should Marsch start his first team, I see New York winning 2-0 with goals both early and late.

  • 600 supporters?

    Sons of Ben’s claims that there will be 600 supporters there seem like a stretch. They really have 600 people taking the day off of work to bus up to Red Bull Arena? Doubt it.

    • chester has no work

      They are just throwing whoever is asleep around the park and waterfront. their fans have no jobs in chester

    • Larry’s A Simpleton

      you tthe sons of ben too much credit for having jobs

  • marcia

    Uhhhh, article says Wed. 21st…Today is Tuesday the 21st…am I Crazy?

  • Larry’s A Simpleton

    woo look at that crowd in new jersey. its absolutly cosmos like

    • slowleftarm

      Yeah it’s nothing to brag about but even though its 4pm on a weekday it’s still a bigger crowd than Cosmos get even on a beautiful weekend.