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Match #34 Preview: Philadelphia Union At New York Red Bulls

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Setting: Thursday, October 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ; kickoff scheduled for 8:06:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: ESPN2/ (Adrian Healey, John Harkes), ESPN Deportes (Richard Mendez, Giovanni Savarese) and ESPN Deportes Radio (Jorge Ramos, Hernan Pereyra) nationally, with coverage beginning at 8:00 PM Eastern

New York's Record: 9-8-16, fifth in East

New York's Last Match: L, 2-0 at Sporting KC

Philadelphia vs. New York This Season: 1-0-0 (New York 0 @ Philadelphia 1 on April 9)

For the New York Perspective, Visit Once A Metro

The Philadelphia Union have pushed through the proverbial door. They are guaranteed a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The only question is what position they will find themselves in when the regular season comes to a close. For their opponent on Thursday, the New York Red Bulls, the situation remains much less certain. After a painful 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City that was downright demoralizing, not just because of the result, but because of the loss of Thierry Henry to a red card, the Red Bulls' postseason hopes rests on the result of their final match of the season.

New York is guaranteed a spot with a victory against the Union, but with a draw or loss, the situation becomes murkier, and the Red Bulls would need some help. If the Red Bulls share a draw with the Union, they need Portland to win and tie in their final two matches. With a loss, they need Portland to lose at least one of its two remaining matches, DC United to lose both of its two remaining matches, and for Chicago to lose at home against Columbus. Suffice to say, the Red Bulls will just about be forced to go all out tomorrow against the Union, and the loss of Henry won't help -- although it may not hurt, as starlet Juan Agudelo will take his place up front.

Since their playoff-clinching draw on Saturday, the Union have expressly said that they will try to beat New York to put themselves into the best scenario possible when the playoffs roll around, and that means keeping their foot on the pedal. They will be without Veljko Paunovic, whose role and importance on the team has increased throughout the second half of the season, due to a hamstring sprain. Paunovic and the team hope that he will be available for the postseason, but at this point in time, a timetable for his return is "uncertain." Faryd Mondragon, refreshed and reinvigorated, will be back between the pipes for the Union as they try to put the finishing touches on a tremendous regular season in front of hundreds of traveling fans from Philadelphia, while simultaneously putting New York's on life support.

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

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); G. Farfan, Valdes, Califf, Williams; Carroll; M. Farfan, Adu, Torres; Mwanga, Le Toux

New York: Miller, Ream, Keel, Solli; Lindpere, Tainio, Marquez, Richards; Agudelo, Rodgers

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Thorne Holder, Levi Houapeu and Veljko Paunovic will be unavailable following a concussion, continued left ankle recovery and that right hamstring strain, respectively. Joe Tait is "doubtful" with a right ankle sprain. Zac MacMath is considered "probable" despite continuing to recover from a left ankle sprain.

For New York, Chris Albright, Sacir Hot, Carl Robinson and Mike Jones are all out with a right calf strain, recovery from right knee surgery, a right knee contusion and a right knee MCL sprain.

Of note:

  • Mark Geiger is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 87 career MLS matches, Geiger has called for an average of between 26 and 27 fouls per match, awarded just under four yellow cards per match, given a total of 16 red cards and has awarded a total of 30 penalty kicks.
  • Thierry Henry is indeed unavailable for this one after receiving a red card ejection last week at Kansas City.
  • New York has scored ten goals in the last fifteen minutes of matches -- as they should with the extreme level of talent on their team -- and considering the circumstances, if they are down or tied late, expect them to go all out.
  • New York has allowed 10 of its 44 goals directly off of corner kicks. (The Union, in comparison, have allowed five of their 35 from corners.)
The Union look to secure their spot towards the top of the Eastern Conference, while the Red Bulls look to sneak in after a disappointing second half. This should be a good one, and a particularly anxious one for New York fans. Hope you can join us for a gamethread!