Game: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union
Date: October 1st, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Officials: REF: Jose Carlos Rivero, AR1: Corey Parker, AR2: James Conlee, 4TH: Mathieu Bordeau
Television: The Comcast Network, MSG
Streaming: MLS Live
The Union will head up to Harrison to contest their last away game of the regular season. A win tomorrow greatly increases the Union's chances of hosting a playoff game, while a loss could see them drop to sixth place. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, are fighting with their cross-town (sorta) rivals for a playoff bye.
What to expect from the Red Bulls
Tomorrow's game will be New York's third in seven days, as they traveled down to Guatemala to take on Antigua GFC in CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday. Despite the match congestion, RBNY should be relatively fresh: Only three of their players (Luis Robles, Aurelien Collin, Felipe) have already played two matches this week. Expect to see New York's typical 4-2-3-1 with the usual cast of characters. Neither Bradley Wright-Phillips (who has eight goals in his last seven games) nor Sacha Kljestan started in Guatemala, and first-team wingers Daniel Royer and Alex Muyl are both well-rested. Dax McCarty will surely start in defensive midfield, but since Sean Davis and Felipe both put in full shifts in Guatemala, his partner is less certain. No matter who lines up for the Red Bulls, expect them to press like hell.
What to expect from the Union
With Tranquillo Barnetta and Josh Yaro likely to return to the team, the Union's starting eleven should look fairly normal. Assuming that Barnetta starts at the #10 and bumps Bedoya back to the #8 role, the biggest question mark is who starts next to Bedoya. Warren Creavalle filled in admirably for Brian Carroll while he sat out injured for a month, but it appears that Creavalle has not jumped BC on the depth chart. Though they both started against Toronto FC on the weekend, Carroll was preferred to Creavalle the week prior. Maurice Edu hasn't yet made his MLS season debut, and he's not likely to jump right back to the starting lineup without getting some minutes off the bench first.
In the attack, Fabian Herbers will have the opportunity to continue his good run of form along the right wing. With Ilsinho injured and not really a favorite, that spot may be Herbers's for the rest of the season. Despite his drought, CJ Sapong will likely continue to get the nod at striker. Given that the only other option is an unfit Charlie Davies, hoping that Sapong can get something going before the playoffs is the best plan the Union have right now.
What to expect at the end of 90 minutes
The Union are winless in their last four; New York haven't lost an MLS game since July 3rd. The Red Bulls are well-rested, motivated, and just flat-out better than the Union. Though, in MLS, this usually means that the Union will somehow come out of RBA with a win, I don't see it happening. The Union will fall, 2-1, and hope to get six points at home to close out the season.