Chris Celletti, manager of SBNation's Once a Metro, and I decided to preview the brand new rivalry that is set to begin tomorrow. Enjoy.
KS: The Red Bulls have been selected as *the* Union arch rival. How did this happen?
CC: It's interesting, because the arch-rival from the standpoint of the Red Bulls and their fans is still DC United, but that can change quickly. I think its simply geography, and the history between New York and Philadelphia sports teams and fans that automatically makes this a rivalry. The Union will be very well supported in Red Bull Arena on Saturday, and when the Red Bulls trek to Philadelphia, the supporters will follow. That always leads to a good rivalry. Once the teams have played a few times, and in forthcoming years, the Red Bulls/Union rivalry really has the potential to be the top derby in the league.
In conjunction with your question, how much would it mean to the fans and the organization to come into Red Bull Arena and get a victory?
KS: A victory on the road against our first designated rival would mean a ton. What I'm looking for is a solid game on defense and in net, no red cards and more of that wonderful possession play that led to a brilliant goal against Toronto.
What are you looking for out of the Red Bulls?
CC: So far this season, the Red Bulls have been extremely organized. The strength of the team thus far in 2010 is the defense. The attack has been inconsistent at best, but the team rarely looks unorganized or out of shape. Coach Hans Backe has preached consistency, and has showed it through his lineups and formations. The team has taken on the demeanor of its coach, but they'd certainly like to score more. A Philadelphia defense missing Dan Califf might help the cause.
Speaking of Califf being out, are the two early red cards a sign of an aggressive team, or is it just coincidence? Conversely, what is the greatest strength of the Union? Most glaring weakness?
KS: The two early red cards are the sign of an immature team. The last two games really haven't been terribly aggressive but the two cards are both instances of nervous defenders making the wrong decision. The greatest strength I'd say is the capability to possess the ball. They aren't always consistent but with each game they get a bit better and it produces goals. The most glaring weakness is confidence on the defensive side of the ball. The keeper and the back line are struggling and need a solid performance to build themselves up a little bit. It looks like this game is going to be an offense with potential in Philadelphia versus a solid defense in New York. The strengths and weaknesses match up between these two teams.
How do you think your defense will match up to the Union attack? What player are you most concerned with?
CC: The Red Bulls defense kept clean sheets against Chicago and Seattle to open the season, two of the league's better attacking sides. I wouldn't expect the Union to give the Red Bulls tons of trouble, but it really depends on if the Red Bulls can hold possession and keep their shape. But the Union have two players who I'd watch out for especially. One being Alejandro Moreno, who always seems to score against RBNY, and the other is Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux had that impressive hat trick a couple weeks back, and I always thought he was overlooked a little last year in Seattle. I think he can be a very effective attacking playing for the Union.
Lastly, are Chris Seitz's recent blunders a real cause for concern? What do the Union need to do (minus Califf) to try and keep Juan Pablo Angel at bay?
KS: Seitz's recent issues are a cause for some concern. Not every goal is his fault. The defense needs to avoid dumb fouls and play better. It would also be nice for the keeper to consistently have a full 11 on his side for 90 minutes. Someone on that defense will need to step up and lead in order to stop the Red Bull attack. I honestly don't know who that guy is or could be. We might have to drop a midfielder back to provide additional help behind the ball.