Match #4 Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls

CHESTER PA- OCTOBER 16: Mehdi Ballouchy of the New York Red Bulls and Eduardo Coudet #21 of the Philadelphia Union go up to head the ball at PPL Park on October 16 2010 in Chester Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, April 9 at PPL Park in Chester; kickoff scheduled for 7:08:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: ESPN2 and ESPN3.com nationwide (Adrian Healey, John Harkes) with coverage starting at 7:00 PM Eastern, ESPN Deportes (Richard Mendez, Giovanni Savarese) nationwide with tape-delayed coverage beginning at 8:00 PM Eastern, ESPN Deportes Radio (Jorge Ramos, Hernan Pereyra) nationwide (WWDB 860 AM locally) / WADO 1280 AM (Ernesto Motta, Robert Sierra) in New York

New York's Record: 1-0-2, third in East

New York's Last Match: T, 1-1 vs. Houston

Philadelphia vs. New York Last Season: 1-1-0 (Philadelphia 1 @ New York 2 on April 24; New York 1 @ Philadelphia 2 on October 16)

For the New York Perspective, Visit Once a Metro

The Union's busiest week of the 2011 season concludes Saturday night when Dwayne De Rosario and the New York Red Bulls visit PPL Park in front of what is expected to be a raucous atmosphere. After dropping that 1-0 decision at the Galaxy on Saturday, then dropping their U.S. Open Cup play-in match to D.C. United in penalty kicks on Wednesday, the Union will look to get back on the winning track and remain atop MLS's Eastern Conference as they take on one of the favorites for the 2011 MLS Cup.

New York is coming off a somewhat frustrating home draw against Houston, where they controlled play and opened the match's scoring early in the second half thanks to De Rosario setting up Dane Richards, only to concede an equalizer to Houston's Cam Weaver a mere three minutes later. For the Union, the keys to the match continue to lie in the back, as Danny Califf and Carlos Valdes will have their hands full with the Red Bulls. And even though statistically speaking New York has had trouble generating a large number of promising offensive chances in their first few matches, it's likely that Faryd Mondragon won't have an easy night either.

The Union, however, will need to continue placing increased focus on their offensive game. Not to beat a dead horse, but the team was rather lucky to score the two goals it has in its MLS regular season account this season, and their form in Los Angeles was lacking in creativity, determination and inspiration from an offensive perspective, even if from a defensive perspective it ended up being somewhat effective. The Union must be able to continue to get the ball wide, move the ball forward, and perhaps first and foremost, hold the ball for more than just one or two passes. You can try all positioning and tactics you want, but if you can't consistently remain in possession of the ball in the opposing third for whatever reason for more than ten or fifteen seconds, it's not going to matter.

Projected starters and up-to-date injury reports after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams; Mapp, Carroll, Miglioranzi; Ruiz, Mwanga, Le Toux

New York: Coundoul; Miller, Marquez, Ream, Solli; Lindpere, Tainio, De Rosario, Richards; Henry, Agudelo

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Gabe Farfan is considered to be ruled out with a right little toe subluxation issue, and Danny Califf is listed as "probable" with a left knee meniscus issue. Zac MacMath and Amobi Okugo are back from their national team duties and are expected to be available tomorrow, while Jack McInerney will unavailable thanks to his automatic one-game red card suspension.

For New York, Chris Albright is out while he continues to recover from right knee surgery, as is goalkeeper Greg Sutton, who is dealing with a concussion.

Of note:

  • Dwayne De Rosario is expected to make his first start as a Red Bull after being traded from Toronto FC last week. He played the second half of New York's match against Houston, setting up Dane Richards for that opening goal. De Rosario has two goals in two career matches against the Union.
  • Peter Nowak is 8-3-3 in fourteen career matches coached against the MetroStars/Red Bulls.
  • The Union were not able to register a single shot on goal last week in Los Angeles, only attempting four shots at goal -- all of which were after the 50th minute. That will have to change.
  • Alex Prus will be the match referee tomorrow. In 178 career MLS matches, Prus has called just under 28 fouls per match, distributed a little over 3 yellow cards per match, given out a total of 42 yellow cards and called for 49 penalty kicks.
A battle for top positioning in the Eastern Conference? That happens. On national TV? That also happens. Involving the New York Red Bulls? That's happened, yes. Also involving the Union? That hasn't happened. Join us for a gamethread Saturday night as Philadelphia looks to break through offensively and New York looks to remain unbeaten. It should be a terrific match, and if you're not able to get to PPL Park, we hope to enjoy the match with you here.
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