The Union have won two in a row in dominating fashion. Next up for the Union is their rivals from New York… er, New Jersey. The Red Bulls have been very impressive as of late. The team from New Jersey has moved past Atlanta, after beating them last week, to the number one spot in the power rankings. Our Philly Sports Network’s Union Crew preview if the Union can find a way to get their third win in a row away at Red Bulls!
Philadelphia Union travel just a short distance to northern New Jersey against rival New York Red Bulls in what promises to be an exciting and wild game of soccer. Just how wild the match becomes will be the deciding factor behind Philadelphia’s result, or lack thereof Saturday night. New York wants their opponents to play at a frantic pace in hopes of rattling players and disrupting any type of rhythm their opponent can muster.
I am really trying to figure out how the Union can win this weekend. I really am. Every aspect I look at goes in favor of the New York Red Bulls. The Union are playing their best soccer of the season, winning two in a row, albeit against the porous defenses of Montreal and Real Salt Lake. The Red Bulls are riding a four game winning streak, including beating up on the likes of NYCFC and Atlanta United. They are simply on another level and have been clicking on both sides of the ball. Not to mention they sport the league’s best goal differential of +14!
Earlier this week, midfielder Tyler Adams and left back Kemar Lawrence were both on the injured list. If this held true, the left side of the Red Bull defense would be seriously weakened and present some openings for the revitalized Union attack. Unfortunately for the Union, both players are listed as active, although due to the circumstances involving Lawrence getting carted off the field last week, I doubt he will see any action.
Jim Curtin mentioned David Accam seeing more action since the team has three games this week. I am thinking Curtin will keep the same starting lineup that won at home 4-1 vs Real Salt Lake last week. Regardless of the result Saturday night, you can bank on Accam being inserted in the starting lineup against his former club, the Chicago Fire, on Wednesday. As far as this match, I think the Union will be down a goal late but tie it up in the closing minutes.
Prediction: Red Bulls – 2 Union – 2
Union man of the match: Fafa Picault
If the Union want to be in contention for the playoffs, and would like to be a team that challenges the teams at the top, then they will have to show their worth in a match just like this one! The Red Bulls are one of the hottest teams in MLS right now, and are trending upwards. They have the best points per game average of any team. After they knocked off Atlanta last weekend in Atlanta, they will be heavily favored to take care of business against Philadelphia. That’s what logic dictates.
You know what I saw to logic? Screw it! My overly ambitious self doesn’t see this match as a one way tilt towards the team from New Jersey. Historically, Union-Red Bulls games have been a toss of a coin. This one is going to be the same. Even though Kaku and Wright-Phillips have been a lethal tag team, I see a way that the Union’s teenage center backs get the job done. That being said, it’s impossible to keep the Red Bulls off the score sheet. This one won’t be a dull affair at all! For that to be the case, the Union’s attack will need to continue to fire on all cylinders!
Who would’ve guessed that the spark the Union’s offense needed was Marcus Epps? The youngster has played like the teams MVP the last two matches. He’ll need to continue that against a Red Bulls back line that has shown some vulnerability when their opposition finds ways in behind. With that fact, Fafa Picault will also need to have a productive night getting in behind. Borek Dockal has finally shown his worth, and lived up to his high price tag. Now’s the real test. Play the way he’s done in the last two against NYRB, and the Union may just find a way to get points.
In a match that is sure to have a lot of offense, I see the Union finding a way to have just a bit more. While this is all wishful thinking, the Union will have to show that they can play this type of game away from home if they want to be above the redline near the end of the season. Hopefully my optimism doesn’t doom the Union to another 3-0 loss on the road, where the team looks like they forget how to play soccer.
Prediction: Red Bulls – 2 Union -3
Union Man of the Match: Borek Dockal
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports