To keep up in superior east, the Union need a win against Red Bulls

The east has been the better of the two conferences this season. The gap from first to fourth is five points; the gap from sixth to eleventh is six points. The Union currently sit in tenth place, and could easily fall behind the rest of the east by not getting good results. The Union face Red Bulls at home in what feels like a must win match. To keep up in the superior east, Philly need a win against Red Bulls. How can the Union beat their eastern conference foes, and stay in the thick of things in the east?

There are two ways to beat Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium, the Union have done it in recent games. The two ways to beat the Red Bulls are, one, beat their press and dictate the game, and two, feed off of the atmosphere of the match.

1.) Beat the press and dictate the game:

Beating the Red Bulls is as easy as beating their press. The Red Bulls live and die with their high pressing style of defense. The Union beat Red Bulls back in May by keeping compact defensively, and finding ways to exploit New York’s defense. So How can the Union do this again? The Union can beat the press by sticking to the way they like to play. Precise passing that moves the ball to the Red Bulls half of the field quickly. Once they make New York back-peddle, the Union will have beaten the press. They will have worked on this with the extra time to prepare, but they also will have to sure up their defense.

With over a week off, each player has had time to focus on staying disciplined on the defensive side of the ball. The Lapses that doomed the Union in the past few league matches cannot happen agaisnt Red Bull if Philly wants to win. Each player will know where to be defensively. The Striker and number 10 will be the first line of defense, while the midfield will work as a unit to stop attacks early. Should the Red Bulls get through the defense will have to shift together to stop attacks. With defense sured up and knowing how to beat the press, the Union’s success come’s down to being intentional in the attacking half. The atmosphere of the stadium should help the Union do this.

2.) Feed off the atmosphere:

The Union know that this match means more to them and the fans. If it’s not seen as an actual rivalry it’s getting there. The players are up for it and the fans are up for it! The Atmosphere should be loud, and the place should be rocking. This is the only MLS game on Sunday, it’s on ESPN, the club has made a huge effort to make it feel like a rivalry. The fans will be revved up for a tough match. The players should be able to feed off of the atmosphere.

Sticking to the game plan, and feeding off of the atmosphere should help the Union to victory. So who’ll start for Philly in this crucial match?

Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Onyewu, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Fafa, Alberg, Pontius; Sapong.
Subs: McCarthy, Rosenberry, Elliot, Jones, Epps, Ilsinho, Simpson.

This group should be able to get the three points against New York. The future of the Union’s season depends on it.

Eastern Conference Standings

Points Overall Home Away
1 Toronto FC 32 2 16 9 2 5 28 15 13 6-0-2 3-2-3
2 Chicago Fire 31 1.94 16 9 3 4 27 17 10 7-0-1 2-3-3
3 New York City FC 27 1.69 16 8 5 3 29 20 9 5-1-2 3-4-1
4 Orlando City SC 25 1.56 16 7 5 4 19 21 -2 6-1-3 1-4-1
5 Columbus Crew SC 22 1.29 17 7 9 1 25 29 -4 5-2-1 2-7-0
6 Atlanta United FC 21 1.4 15 6 6 3 31 23 8 4-2-0 2-4-3
7 New York Red Bulls 20 1.33 15 6 7 2 15 21 -6 5-1-2 1-6-0
8 New England Revolution 20 1.25 16 5 6 5 27 23 4 5-1-2 0-5-3
9 Montreal Impact 18 1.29 14 4 4 6 23 22 1 3-2-1 1-2-5
10 Philadelphia Union 16 1.14 14 4 6 4 20 18 2 3-2-2 1-4-2
11 D.C. United 15 1 15 4 8 3 10 23 -13 2-4-2 2-4-1

Too close for comfort:

The Union are five points below the red line and the rest of the east is making it hard to move forward. The Union are two wins, and hoping Montreal, New England, Red Bulls and Atlanta drop points, away from the red line. While this seems like a long shot, the Union could be two weeks away from sixth place. They’d be right back in the thick of things if they could take care of Red Bulls today, and beat DC next week. That being said, the Union have to take this one game at a time, since they have no control over what other teams do in this highly competitive conference. So now it’s time to focus all efforts on beating Red Bulls.


Follow me on twitter @TGing21 for Soccer Twitter fun!¬†Coming soon: a look back at the Union’s match against Red Bulls and a look ahead to a clash with DC. ¬†Until then, peace out!


Mandatorp photo credit: Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports Images

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