Preview: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

With the top spot in the East and a berth in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League sewn up, the New York Red Bulls look to play out the string in a Sunday match in Chester, PA that means little to either participant.

While the Union haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot, Philadelphia will finish fifth or sixth in the East and travel for an Eastern Conference Knockout round match midweek. The prospect of playing three times in eight days means the hosts will surely rest a number of starters on Sunday. New York should field a “strong team” in the words of coach Jesse Marsch, and will go for the win.


Match Information

Sunday, October 23rd at Talen Energy Stadium. 4pm ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: MSG/MSG GO (Optimum and xfinity subscribers)

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Kevin Stott

Record: GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current League Form

Philadelphia: 42 points from 33 gms, 52GF/53GA, 6th in the East, 13th in MLS, DLDLL

New York: 54 points from 33 gms, 59GF/44GA, 1st in the East, 3rd in MLS, DDWWW


Projected Lineups

Philadelphia

PHIvNY

New York

NYvPHI


The Union Attack vs. the New York Back Line

Charlie Davies vs. Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Ronald Zubar, Sal Zizzo, and Luis Robles

Union boss Jim Curtin may throw out the former USMNT man Davies (8 appearances, 1A) who has yet to start for Philadelphia since his trade from New England this summer. Marsch will counter by giving both Aurelien Collin and Chris Duvall a bench seat to start the day for Ronald Zubar, who needs minutes to get back into form, and Sal Zizzo, who had effectively lost the starting right back role to Duval earlier this season. You won’t see Luis Robles taking the day off, however. The New York Iron Man currently leads the league in goalkeeper wins and shutouts.

Advantage: New York


The Red Bulls forward vs. the Philadelphia Defense

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Maurice Edu, Raymond Gaddis, and Andre Blake

BWP has a one-goal advantage over crosstown rival David Villa in the race for the MLS Golden Boot coming into the match. New York’s all-time leading scorer has bagged 14 goals in the Red Bulls’ last 12 league matches. Philadelphia may insert Maurice Edu into the lineup for the first time in 14 months after suffering a left leg fracture. The rest of the Union backline should stay intact. Blake has conceded nine goals in Philadelphia’s last five matches (0-3-2).

Advantage: New York


The Midfields

Walter Restrepo, Kevin Kratz, Roland Aalberg, Warren Creavalle, and Ilsinho vs. Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Sean Davis, and Omer Damari

Red Bulls fans will remember Walter Restrepo (4 app, 1A) from his play with the New York Cosmos in the US Open Cup a few years back. Kevin Kratz (0 MLS minutes) was a midseason signing who spent three years with Bayer Leverkusen. Aalberg (9G/3A) hasn’t started for the Union since July 31st, and only has added two goals and two assists to his account since then. Ilsinho (2G/2A) scored both of his MLS goals on July 9th vs. DC.  Marsch may choose to give Felipe a rest in favor of Sean Davis, and Omer Damari a chance to show what he can do ahead of the postseason, giving Alex Muyl the afternoon off.  Other than that, look for Kljestan to go all out to secure New York’s 16th victory of the season, and reach the 20-assist mark for the first time in MLS since Carlos Valderrama notched 26 in 2000.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches

Jesse Marsch has coached his team to two successive Eastern Conference regular season Championships, pushed his team to the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal, and hasn’t lost in three months. Jim Curtin’s team was in first place in May, and has taken a massive nosedive, culminating in a six-match winless streak and a tiebreaker away from missing the postseason.

Advantage: New York


Intangibles

The Union is 8-4-4 at Talen Energy this season, including a 2-2 draw with New York on July 17th when the Red Bulls dropped a two-goal advantage. New York also lost a 2-1 decision there this summer in the US Open Cup after leading 1-0 at half. The Red Bulls are 3-5-2 in Philadelphia, all-time. BWP’s four goals against the Union is one behind the franchise leader: Kenny Cooper. There hasn’t been a clean sheet in the series by either team since the Union shocked the Red Bulls in Harrison, 2-0 in May of 2015, seven matches ago. After a chilly start, Sunday’s weather will be sensational for late October, with a clear skies and a high in the mid-sixties at kickoff. Hundreds of Red Bulls fans will make the trip, despite a lack of drama about the result.

Advantage: Even


Prediction:

With little to play for, Sunday’s match will be slightly more intense that a pre-season match, with a premium on staying fit and not taking injuries. New York’s lineup will be simply stronger. BWP will score once or twice before taking a seat. The Red Bulls win 3-1 on a super day for traveling fans, who will hustle back to RBA to catch the USL Cup Final.