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Match #9 Preview: Philadelphia Union Vs. New York Red Bulls

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Setting: Sunday, May 13 at PPL Park in Chester; kickoff scheduled for 12:37 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: ESPN2/TSN2 (Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman) and ESPN Deportes (Richard Mendez, Giovanni Savarese) nationally, with coverage beginning at 12:15 PM Eastern / WLIB 1190 AM (Robert Sierra, Nelson Rubio, Marvin Sandoval) in New York / and WatchESPN app

New York's Record: 6-3-1, 19 points (second in East)

New York's Last Match: W, 1-0 vs. Houston

Philadelphia vs. New York Last Season: 1-1-0 (New York 0 @ Philadelphia 1 on April 9; Philadelphia 0 @ New York 1 on October 20)

For the New York Perspective, Visit Once A Metro

The Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls will both make quick turnarounds as they meet at PPL Park early Sunday afternoon for a mother's day clash. Philadelphia is coming off of a rather rewarding 2-1 win on Wednesday in a friendly against German club Schalke 04, while the Red Bulls took three points in MLS play as they hosted Houston on Wednesday. Besides scoring two goals (something they haven't done yet this season), by all accounts Philadelphia's offense was at its most potent this season. Of course, that's not necessarily saying all that much, but coach John Hackworth was quick to credit the team post-game for taking shots early, often, and from everywhere, something they might want to try at times when the goals actually count for something. Like this Sunday.

The offense is going to need to get a couple on Sunday, too, as the Union are dealing with a two-prong issue with regard to defense. One, the Red Bulls are tied for the highest scoring side in Major League Soccer. They've only been shutout once this season, and that was two months ago. They may be missing Thierry Henry to injury, but Kenny Cooper's been a heck of an offseason acquisition for Erik Solér and Hans Backe, with eight goals and an assist already in his account. It was Cooper who took advantage of a Tally Hall miscue to score what would end up as the game winning goal on Wednesday. Joel Lindpere and Dax McCarty can clean up too, so it's not as though the Red Bulls are without their capacity to run teams out of the stadium.

Perhaps the most interesting question for the Red Bulls is where Rafa Marquez will be. His suspension for brutally fracturing former Union player Shea Salinas's left clavicle ended after New York's 1-0 win at Los Angeles last Saturday, and yet Marquez was nowhere to be found on the pitch against Houston. There's no indication that he'll be back for Sunday, either. And it's probably for the best for the Red Bulls -- McCarty's badly outplayed the international star in Marquez's absence. So if Marquez does end up taking the pitch on Sunday in a surprise move, it may actually benefit the Union. And they're going to need every break they can get, with goalkeeper Zac MacMath listed by the team as out for Sunday with "concussion symptoms", probably as a result of a nasty knee to the head he took last week in Seattle. That leaves backup Chase Harrison as the likely man between the pipes. It would be his first ever MLS start. Let the fun times roll.

Projected starters, injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Harrison; Williams, Valdes, Califf, Gaddis; Carroll, Gomez; Daniel, M. Farfan; Adu, Pajoy

New York: Meara; Lade, Ruthven, Holgersson, Barklage; McCarty; Solli, Lindpere, Richards; Ballouchy; Cooper

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Roger Torres (left knee), Krystian Witkowski (concussion), and Zac MacMath ("concussion symptoms") are out. Chris Albright (sprained left big toe) is "doubtful" to be available. Danny Califf's availability is "questionable" due to a left hamstring strain. Gabriel Farfan will serve the final match of his disciplinary suspension on Sunday.

For New York, Jose Angulo (right knee sprain), Thierry Henry (right hamstring strain), Stephen Keel (back strain) Wilman Conde (left groin strain), and Teemu Tainio (right knee sprain) are all unavailable.

Of note:

  • Jorge Gonzalez is listed as Sunday's match referee. In 79 career MLS matches, Gonzalez has called an average of 24.7 fouls per match, given an average of 3.3 yellow cards per match, handed out a total of 23 red cards and has awarded a total of 23 penalty kicks.
  • Gabriel Gomez is one yellow card away from receiving an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension for yellow card accumulation. Dane Richards and Dax McCarty are two yellow cards away.
  • Peter Nowak returns to the sidelines and locker room for Sunday's match. His suspension is over.
  • While the Union list Chase Harrison as their likely starter for Sunday, it's also very possible that Chris Konopka could get the nod. The Toms River-native has one career MLS start under his belt, and it came last season as a member of the New York Red Bulls, with the Red Bulls securing a 2-2 draw against Chicago.
  • Was it a coincidence that the offense began flowing for the Union on Wednesday once they had some of their younger players in? Probably not. Is that going to change the strategy of Peter Nowak? Probably not.
  • What a story Ryan Meara has been for the Red Bulls. After an awfully inconsistent goaltending situation last year, the rookie out of Yonkers has really settled things down in back for New York and made some absolutely spectacular stops.
  • Tyler Ruthven, son of Phillies starter Dick Ruthven (who got the win in the Phils' extra-inning, pennant-winning game 5 in Houston in the 1980 NLCS on their way to the World Series victory), and former contributor to this very site, is expected to get another start for the Red Bulls. We all continue to wish him the absolute best of luck.
  • So the team says MacMath has "concussion symptoms". Not a concussion -- concussion symptoms. Using that kind of terminology, if you broke your leg and were in a wheelchair, and someone came up to you and asked what happened, what do you think their reaction would be if you said "oh, I have the symptoms of a broken leg"? They could well know that he has an actual concussion and are giving a vaguer description for the sake of the fans and media. But the real question here is this: if MacMath was indeed concussed (or had the appearance of possibly being concussed) last week midgame in Seattle, why did they let him stay in?
The Union go for a big result on Mother's Day while the Red Bulls try to keep on keepin' on. If you're going down to PPL Park, enjoy the match. Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there -- enjoy the day and hopefully the Union will treat you right with three points! For those of you who aren't mothers, and therefore are not being loved on Sunday, if you're not going to the match, we'll have just the gamethread for you right here.