What a Wednesday in MLS and for the Philadelphia Union. The boys in blue became the second team in the MLS to book their spot into the playoffs with a solid 4-1 victory over Atlanta United. Results went Philly’s way, could this continue this weekend at Red Bull Arena?
Against Atlanta, the first half was a tense one, with Julian Carranza getting on the board inside of twenty minutes and Atlanta responding with a gritty goal of their own to level it off. Just when everyone thought the game would go into the half-tied, Uhre notched his tenth goal of the season, becoming the third Union double-digit goal scorer of the season.
It was tight towards the beginning of the second half until Daniel Gazdag put home his seventeenth goal of the season, setting the Union single-season record for goals and topping an already great game and season for the Hungarian. Nate Harriel poked home his first goal of the season to cap the game off. The results that followed the game absolutely fell perfectly into the Union’s hands.
NYCFC, Montreal, Austin, and most importantly LAFC all lost their games, which meant that the team extended their lead at the top of the conference and evened them with LAFC for the Supporter’s Shield race.
Union at Red Bulls Preview
The Union cannot dwell on this game too long as they face a very familiar opponent this upcoming weekend, the New York Red Bulls. These teams last faced off in May, where they battled to a 1-1 draw down at Subaru Park. It has been a few months since that matchup and these two teams may not really be the same team that they once were. Let us look at how Red Bull has been doing since that mid-May matchup, the player to watch out for, and the final score prediction for the Labor Day weekend matchup.
2022 MLS Season
It has been a little while since these two teams have faced off. When these teams faced off back in May, it seemed that Red Bull could win on the road but not at home. While their success at home has improved over the past few months, the argument can still be made that this team does seem to struggle at home. While they are coming off two straight home wins, they have also drawn a few games they should have won and lost some games that they could have easily drawn or at least stolen.
Overall, to this point in the season, the New York Red Bulls have accumulated a record of 13-8-8 through twenty-nine games. This record of thirteen wins, eight draws and eight losses are good for forty-seven points and third in the eastern conference. This Red Bull team does know how the Union play, but it is always a tight game when they face off.
The player to watch out for on this team has not changed since the last matchup for a very good reason. Lewis Morgan, the Scottish international in his first season with NYRB since his acquisition from Inter Miami, has quickly become the team’s best player and the most dangerous/ruthless attacking threat that they have.
Through twenty-seven games played, Morgan has a stat line of thirteen goals and four assists which leads the team in goals and is pretty good for this point in the season. The thing that makes Morgan so dangerous is his ability to mix up his runs in behind with his 1v1 attacking runs against the outside backs. He can switch it up on either wing so both fullbacks for the Union will need to be on high alert to truly shut down NYRB’s most dangerous player.
The Union-Red Bull games are always the toughest to predict for a handful of reasons. Most people tend to say draws and most of the time these people would absolutely be correct. Then you have games like the open cup matchups or the famous Ilsinho game where the Union turned the game on its head and brought the Red Bulls to their knees. This Union team is firing on all cylinders right now and is absolutely one of the most dangerous all-around teams in the league without question.
The Red Bull is a very defensive and structurally sound team, but so is the Union and it is always interesting to see which team breaks down the other’s defense. These road games are always tough and I am usually good with a point, but after the past few weeks and the run this team is on, it’s tough to pick a draw. Put me down for a 2-1 Union victory. Game time on Saturday is 7 pm.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych