The Union continue their US Open Cup campaign tonight against a team they know very well, New York Red Bulls. Philadelphia take on New York at home in what is an interesting time. The Union made their May run in MLS play showing that they want to be in contention for a playoff spot. However, their last two league games have been losses, at Atlanta United 3-1 and vs Toronto FC 2-0. Now, Philly has a chance to put those bad results behind them to continue in the US Open Cup Round of 16!
An annual “rivalry”
“I think we both respect each other as clubs, but there is a rivalry there.” pic.twitter.com/8inr7etg1c
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) June 13, 2018
Even though Red Bulls may not admit it, because of the proximity and the familiarity of the teams, Union-Red Bulls is a “rivalry” game. This may be because of the way the US Open Cup likes to group teams by region, but seeing this as a rivalry will help the Union. It will help Philadelphia get up for this match! Since Philly will be up for a chance at a cup, the Union will need to correct their recent play. In the weekly press conference and player interviews the Union presented some keys to victories!
Key to Victory: Fix the little mistakes
Jim Curtin talked a lot in his press conference about the teams little mistakes that they made in their last match against Toronto. The center backs especially will have to have learned a lot. Trusty and Mckenzie were slow to react on both goals conceded in the Toronto match. The other mistake to fix is in the midfield.
The midfield pairing of Creavalle and Dockal didn’t pay dividends especially in stopping build up play through the middle. This mistake will be corrected with the addition of mainstays Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin coming back to the midfield. with their addition there won’t be as many breaks in the middle of the field with the two veterans flying around to keep the Red Bulls in check. This will help the Union get back to playing their brand of soccer. Which leads to another key to victory.
Key to Victory: Continuing to play Union soccer
"We will continue to play our game, and implement what we do best." – @markmckenzie4_ in this @IBX Live Fearless Match Preview pic.twitter.com/drbuBHwyQZ
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) June 15, 2018
In the last few matches the Union have gone away from their normal high paced style of stifling their opposition in the middle of the field. They had to go away from it at Atlanta United, going down to nine men. They also played this way against Toronto since they spread the Union thin by getting a lot of numbers forward on the wings. Getting back to their style of play will help everyone calm down and remember the type of soccer they like to play.
The possessive, high paced style the Union play at home, will allow the back line to get some touches to create build up play through Medunjanin and Bedoya. This allows the wings to get forward down the lines, and Dockal to find space to operate. The striker will then find ways to either make a run behind or back to the ball. If the Union can get back to this type of play, keeping their shape for when they lose possession, they will be back to normal! Being back to their normal selves will help them find more ways to create and take chances.
Key to victory: Take chances when they present themselves, and finish them
"Only one winner, no ties. We have to produce the chances and finish it." – @Fafagoal23 in this @IBX Live Fearless Match Preview pic.twitter.com/mwVZCtLEfG
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) June 14, 2018
The Union’s main key to victory is one that is the main goal of every game; create more chances than the opposition and finish the chances created! In the last three games the Union have scored six goals, albeit five were against Richmond in the fourth round of Open Cup play. For the Union to move on. They will need to create chances and finish them!
Whoever starts on the wings will need to find a way to spread the Red Bulls wide to create space in the middle of the pitch. This will allow room for Dockal, Bedoya and whoever starts at striker to find chances on goal! This was a major part of the Union’s winning streak in May. Philly will need to find ways to get shots on Ryan Meara to test the Red Bulls back up early and often to move past the Red Bulls.
Will the Union move on?
The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek win vs Seattle where they played a lot of their starters. That will likely dictate how the Red Bulls lineup tonight. Even if the Red Bulls play a lot of subs or their fatigued starters, Jesse Marsch will have his side raring to go!
I see the Union find a way to get back to the way they were playing in May, but it won’t be enough to defeat the Red Bulls in regular time. I see this game going to extra time, and penalties. The Union prevail there in dramatic fashion!
Prediction: Union: 1 (5) Red Bulls: 1 (4)
Union man of the Match: Alejandro Bedoya
US Open Cup Round of 16 action
The Union take on Red Bulls tonight at 7 PM tonight! Here’s a look at the other US Open Cup Round of 16 action:
Friday, June 15th:
Portland Timbers: 1 LA Galaxy: 0
Saturday, June 16th:
Philadelphia Uni vs New York Red Bulls | 7 PM
Sporting Kansas City vs FC Dallas | 9 PM
Monday, June 16th:
Houston Dynamo vs Minnesota United | 8:30 PM
Wednesday, June 20th:
DC United vs Orlando City SC | 7:00 PM
Louisville City vs Nashville SC | 7:00 PM
Atlanta United vs Chicago Fire | 7:30 PM
LA FC vs Sacramento Republic FC | 10:30 PM
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports