After handing the Loons their first loss in their gorgeous new stadium, the Philadelphia Union return home this weekend as they take on their rival the New York Red Bulls. The Union haven’t played the Red Bulls yet this season, but with both clubs playing well recently expect a heated affair.
Red Bulls’ Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK Luis Robles ©- D Conor Lade, D Amro Tarek, D Tim Parker, D Alex Muyl- M Marc Rzatkowski, M Sean Davis, M Daniel Royer, M Kaku, M Marcus Epps- F Brian White
Player to watch: Midfielder, Kaku
Lineup Analysis: The Red Bulls come to Chester with a few key missing pieces. Considering the Union are only losing a few players due to International Duty, I think the Union can hold their own against a broken down Red Bull squad. Captain Aaron Long will be out for the Red Bulls along with their dynamic duo of outside backs consisting of Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murrillo, who will all be absent due to international duty. The question mark comes in as to who will fill in at right back for this club. Backup outside back Connor Lade will slot in for Lawrence, but who will fill in for Murrillo? Considering the depth at midfield for New York, I expect Alex Muyl to drop down and help out the backline. Meanwhile, former Philly midfielder Marcus Epps could get the nod at right wing to play against his old team. Finally, dangerous forward Bradley Wright Phillips remains questionable but in my opinion, the Red Bulls will hold him out until after the Gold Cup break.
Union’s Projected Starting XI (4-1-2-1-2): GK Carlos Miguel Coronel- D Kai Wagner, D Auston Trusty, D Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis- M Haris Medunjanin, M Jamiro Monteiro, M Alejandro Bedoya ©, M Brendan Aaronson- F Kacper Przybylko, F Sergio Santos
Lineup Analysis: The Gold Cup has been generous in taking players away from the Union. Only goalkeeper Andre Blake and midfielder Marco Fabian will be absent. The Union have been without them both before this season (been without Fabian for most of the season), and been somewhat successful. Carlos Miguel Coronel who hasn’t been bad for the Union should slot in for Blake, as Brendan Aaronson will take his usual spot in the attacking midfield. Given the amount of missing players for New York, I can see this Union lineup causing nightmares for the Red Bulls.
Player to Watch: Forward, Sergio Santos
Last Contest between the clubs: It was a fiery contest the last time these two played against each other last Fall, as five yellow cards were handed out (Three for the Union, two for the Red Bulls). The Chester fans were left disappointed after a very controversial penalty led to a 1-0 loss for the boys in blue. Alejandro Bedoya was whistled for a questionable handball, and after VAR confirmed the penalty, Kaku converted to make it 1-0. Not many chances, but many physical challenges highlighted the contest.
Match Preview: This match is going to much different than last Fall due to the Union’s incredible first place form. With a new back four and questionable outside backs I can see the Union’s offense taking advantage. Sergio Santos is the man to watch as his incredible pace could cause issues for the shaky defense. Center back Amro Tarek is all not 100 percent, so Przybylko and Santos could have a field day with dangerous runs. New York’s man to watch is playmaker Kaku who will be the maestro for setting plays this Saturday. With BWP out and a question mark at right wing, expect Kaku to be all over the ball in this game. The Union had issues containing him last season and has the potential to run wild on this match. His mix of versatility, speed, and creativeness, could be a problem for Haris Medunjanin. As long as the Union can keep possession for long stretches of time, and put pressure on guys who aren’t usually in the lineup for New York, I can see this being a successful game for the Union. I am predicting a 3-1 win with goals coming from Kaku of the Red Bulls, and Sergio Santos with a brace and a goal from Przybylko for the Union!
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!
Follow our writers on Twitter:
Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports