Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN
Staff Writer

Coming off a quality road result at a strong Dallas squad, New York returns home to the Fortress on the Passaic to meet Philadelphia in the first of three matches between the clubs this season.

The Union are having a tough start to their season, and have never won at Red Bull Arena.  With a trip to Seattle looming next week, the Red Bulls insist they won’t treat Philly as a trap game.  The two clubs are in different trajectories, though, and New York is rightly favored to emerge with all the points.


Match Information:
Sunday, May 24th at Red Bull Arena, 5:00p ET kickoff, TV/Streaming: Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports Go
Referee: Allen Chapman

Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:
New York, 17 points from 10 matches, 14 GF/9 GA, 3rd in the East, t-6th in MLS, DDLWD
Philadelphia, 9 points from 12 matches, 11 GF/21 GA, 8th in the East, 18th in MLS, LLLLW


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

BWP was managed well by the Dallas defense last week, though his injury-time header was saved by Dan Kennedy. Wright-Phillips has collected three goals in his last two matches at Red Bull Arena.  The Union have conceded six more goals than any other team in MLS, and the club is giving up 2.5 goals per road match in 2015. Philly will take the field without DP Maurice Edu who is sitting out a yellow card suspension.  Rookie Raymond Lee may take his place, though he’s played all of 12 minutes this season. Regular left back Ray Gaddis had to leave last week’s win over DC United with a muscle issue, so Fabinho should start there. Sheanon Williams has over 130 appearances for Philadelphia at right back. The infamous Union goalkeeping morass is something to behold. Three keepers (the hated Rais M’Bohli, the injured John McCarthy, and last week’s hero Sylvestre) all have GAA’s greater than 1.5.

Advantage: New York


Philadelphia attack vs. the Red Bulls’ backline:

Conor Casey vs. Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Karl Ouimette, and Chris Duvall (and Luis Robles)

The 33 year-old Casey has yet to find the back of the net this season, though 10 of his 68 all-time MLS goals have come against the Red Bulls.  If healthy, Argentine Fernando Aristeguieta (3G) may start or sub in. New York’s defense was steadfast last week in Frisco, shutting out the high-powered FC Dallas attack. Thanks to Felipe, Robles picked up his third shutout of the season.  Lawrence has become a two-way force on the left side, and Ouimette has stepped in admirably for Young Matt Miazga. With a yellow against Philadelphia, Perrinelle will sit out next week’s match at Seattle.

Advantage: New York


The Midfields:

Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Lloyd Sam vs. Sebastien LeToux, Vincent Nogueira, Christian Madiana, Brian Carroll, and Andrew Wenger

Last week, New York played its typical pressing game, disrupting the young, fast stars at Dallas.  The Union’s group is far less skilled, so the Red Bulls should have a lot of the ball. Kljestan is on yellow card watch, and a caution will suspend him for the Sounders.  Grella was the first sub last week after 58 minutes without a shot on goal.  Sam (3G/3A) is second on the scoring sheet after BWP.  As noted above, Felipe’s goal-line clearance was the play of the match for New York, though the Brazilian’s free kicks need to improve.  Dax McCarty leads the league in touches, passes, and recoveries.  Seba Le Toux leads the club in scoring (4G/2A) against New York. Defensive midfielders Nogueira and Carroll have a single goal between them on the season.  Maidana (1G/2A) is having a tough second season in the league.  Andrew Wenger dribbled an attacking ball out of bounds against DC last week, and a gif of the play made the rounds on social media.  Sub Homegrown Zach Pfeffer (2G) scored in injury time to give Philly the win last time out. 18 year-old Eric Ayuk comes off the bench regularly for the Union.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches:

Jesse Marsch is happy to return home as the club endures three out of four matches away. He has his team focused on this week’s opponent, offering nothing but respect to the Union.  His players echo the same focus.  Philly’s Jim Curtin is a fan favorite, but the tools he’s been given by a poor front office make it difficult to succeed.  Curtin may turn out to be a strong manager in MLS, but the results in Chester have been tough to come by.

Advantage: New York


Intangibles:

New York has never lost to Philadelphia at Red Bull Arena (6-0-1) and the Red Bulls have started the season undefeated (3-0-2) at home. Not only are the Union winless on the road (0-4-2), Philadelphia has conceded 15 times away from PPL Park and has a minus-eight road goal difference. The Union’s injury-time goal against DC snapped a 296-minute scoreless streak. Sunday’s weather should be perfect, with partly cloudy skies and a temperature in the mid-seventies at kick-off. While the Union will bring plenty of traveling fans, the holiday weekend crowd should be large and in fine voice.

Advantage: New York


Prediction:
Despite the high of getting a late winner last week against a strong team, Philadelphia is not a dangerous opponent. New York has the advantage at nearly every position, will be playing at home, and is healthy.  As noted above, Marsch will have the team ready to go from the first minute.

This matchup has the making of a rout. With tough road assignments ahead at Seattle and Houston, New York will smash the Union, scoring early and often in a three-nil laugher that will highlight the differences between the two clubs.