Match: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium
Television: The Comcast Network, MSG+ 2
Streaming: MLS Live (Subscription Only)
Referees: REF: Silviu Pretrescu AR1: Cameron Blanchard AR2: Jonathan Johnson 4TH: Ted Unkel
How the Red Bulls will look
New York had their three-game winning streak snapped in Kansas City on Wednesday, which is understandable considering how many starters were rested. First-team regulars Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer, Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, and Damien Perrinelle were all left out of the lineup in anticipation of tomorrow’s match. That’s incredibly unfortunate for those who were hoping to see a Union victory.
The Red Bulls have gotten off to a fairly strong start—they currently have the fourth-highest average point total in the East—but that has been driven in large part by their performance at home. They’re 4-0-1 at Red Bull Arena thus far, but only 1-4-0 away from home. Despite that terrible road record, it’s worth noting that their losses came against the Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo, Orlando City, and Sporting Kansas City. All of those teams—especially OCSC and SKC—are considerably better than the Union.
How the Union will look
Probably pretty bad. I’d wager that they’ll line up in the same formation they’ve used for the past five years. Even though week’s scoreless draw in Los Angeles was probably the team’s best result of the season, there could be a few changes in personnel when lineups are announced tomorrow.
Ray Gaddis has started at right back for the past two games, but he can’t keep Keegan Rosenberry on the bench forever. After all, Rosenberry is the better player, and his benching seems to be more of a wake-up call than a permanent move.
Fafa Picault is another guy whose time in the starting lineup will be (or at least should be) short-lived. Just a few weeks ago, he had fallen below rookie Marcus Epps in the winger depth chart, but he had somehow surpassed Epps and Fabian Herbers to earn a start last weekend. Ilsinho, who’s received the bulk of the minutes on the right wing, was unavailable in Los Angeles due to illness. He’ll seemingly be unavailable for tomorrow’s match as well. Since he got the nod last week, Picault appears to be the favorite to start opposite Chris Pontius once again. Fabian Herbers, who’s been the Union’s best winger this season, should have something to say about that, and he may finally make his return to the lineup tomorrow night.
What to expect
In the latest installment of the rivalry-that’s-not-a-rivalry-yes-it-is-no-it’s-not, the Red Bulls have the clear upper hand despite being on the road and on short rest. The primary participants in their high press weren’t worked too hard mid-week, meaning that they’ll be ready to chase the Union all over the field. The midfield trio of Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, and Roland Alberg has been exploited numerous times in its brief existence, and the Red Bulls have surely taken notice. I have no reason to believe that New York will fail to create opportunities tomorrow, and with BWP leading the line, they’re likely to finish a few of them.
New York Red Bulls 2-1 Philadelphia Union. The Red Bulls are a good team, and they’re coming to town having smartly rested their best players. The Union have an inconsistent and error-prone defense, a flawed central midfield, ineffective wingers, and a striker left on an island. The Union will probably win again at some point, but it won’t be tomorrow.