The Philadelphia Union are in the 2018 MLS Playoffs with two games left in the season. The first of those two games is the final regular season home game for the boys-in-blue. The Union welcome New York Red Bulls to Talen Energy Stadium. Our Philly Sports Network Union Crew Preview if the union can get one step closer to hosting a home playoff match.
Sunday’s I-95 match-up is all about playoff positioning for the Philadelphia Union. A win will clinch at least the 4 seed, and that means a home match in the knockout round. It would also give the Boys in Blue ten home wins for only the second time in club history.
The Red Bulls have only two things on their mind. Winning the Supporter’s Shield and home-field advantage throughout the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. They trail Atlanta United FC by only one point with two games to go. I fully expect them to put out their best possible starting lineup, which includes stars all over the pitch. The anchor is goalkeeper Luis Robles. He’s a gritty veteran, has played in 221 matches for the Red Bulls (regular and post-season combined), and has set a career record for shut outs in a season in 2018 with 12. Fronting Robles are center backs Tim Parker and Aaron Long, forming possibly the best tandem in Major League Soccer. They are the biggest reason New York is tied with the Seattle Sounders for least goals surrendered on the season (33).
Tyler Adams is the man who gets the offense in motion . At only 19 years of age, Adams has already made sevens appearances with the USMNT and in only his second full season in MLS, has shown he can hang with the talent at any level. With seven assists on the season, Adams might make his return from the injured list (back spasms) this Sunday. Moving further up the pitch is Kaku. In his first MLS season, Kaku has demonstrated he can be one of the best ball distributors in the business, currently sitting 4th in MLS with 14 assists. And as usual with the Red Bulls, everything finishes with Bradley Wright-Phillips. He currently is third in MLS with 20 goals, is eighth all-time with 106, and oh yeah, has a career-high 8 assists in 2018. Wright-Phillips is the biggest reason the Red Bulls have a +27 goal-differential and if he has the ball on his foot anywhere near the 18 yard box, odds are he will make something happen.
Coach Jim Curtin has his club focused and aiming to tie their best home-win total ever. A victory on Sunday would give the Union eleven wins at Talen Energy Stadium in 2018. Let’s hope there is no international break hangover and that Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal, Andre Blake and Cory Burke continue the great form they had two weeks ago. If Burke can add to his goal tally, he and Picault will become the first Union pair of double-digit scorers since Jack McInerney and Conor Casey in 2013. The Union will have their work cut out for them Sunday afternoon. As you read, the Red Bulls are loaded in all areas of the pitch. The key to this one will be Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie trying to limit Wright-Phillips’ touches on his offensive half of the field. Both clubs really want this one. The better team is the road team but the home one has even more to play for. Sounds like a draw to me.
Union: 2 Red Bulls: 2
Union Man of the Match: Haris Medunjanin
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports