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Preview: Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls

Game time: Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET

TV: none (streamed live online at http://nytv.neulion.com/mlsvp)

Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, Take 2.

Three days after Saturday’s close 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls, the Union return to Harrison, N.J. for a rematch of sorts. This time, it’s not a league match, but rather a play-in qualifier for the U.S. Open Cup. The winner advances to play the New England Revolution.

The two teams’ coaches appear to be approaching the match very differently. Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said he will rest some starters, because of his team’s packed schedule over the next few weeks. Union manager Peter Nowak says he’ll play his best players because there’s a trophy involved, and there’s something to that. After all, the Seattle Sounders walked away from the U.S. Open Cup last year as the tourney’s champs, a pretty good haul for an expansion team.

This may be a seventh place vs. first place match-up, but none of that matters in the U.S. Open Cup – or at all. The Union are a team that appears to be a key mistake away from a win or draw each week. If they can get stronger play from their highly regarded center backs and young goalkeeper, the Union could get hot. Playing against a Red Bulls team missing a few starters could be a good start.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Chris Seitz

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Michael Orozco, Danny Califf, Cristian Arrieta

Midfielders: Stefani Miglioranzi, Fred, Roger Torres, Andrew Jacobson

Forwards: Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno

New York

Goalkeeper: Greg Sutton

Defenders: Carlos Mendes, Andrew Boyens, Luke Sassano, Danleigh Borman

Midfielders: Tony Tchani, three guys not named Lindpere, Richards or Nielsen

Forwards: Conor Chinn, Juan Aguedelo

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (upper leg strain) is probable.

New York: MF Macoumba Kandji (fractured foot), DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery), MF Giorgi Chirgadze (hip surgery) and DF Kevin Goldthwaite (adductor surgery recovery) are out.

Match-ups

Philadelphia defense vs. New York forwards

The Union defense played well Saturday against the Red Bulls – except when they didn’t. Once again, it was two missteps that led to two goals: Chris Seitz’s hesitation in attacking a ball for a punch-away and Michael Orozco’s inexplicable penalty. If you eliminate those errors, the Union come out on top, but that’s a big fat IF. Captain Danny Califf returns at center back, meaning Jordan Harvey and Cristian Arrieta will likely return to their regular starting spots at left and right fullback, respectively.

For the Red Bulls, we really have no idea who will start. Juan Pablo Angel will probably get a rest, but Salou Ibrahim, who scored Saturday, could see the field. The Union will likely still trot out a starting back five more talented than the Red Bulls attackers, but all those mistakes add up and balance things out in the end. Until the Union eliminate them, this is a potential liability. Fortunately, they’ll get to face the subs.

Edge: Even
Philadelphia midfield vs. New York midfield

The Red Bulls showed that Roger Torres is human after all, and the teenage midfielder could get a rest Tuesday, possibly in favor of winger Shea Salinas, who played well in his stint at fullback Saturday. If not, the Union will once again trot out a starting midfield consisting of four guys who have not traditionally played on the wings.

As for the Red Bulls, once again we have to guess who will start. Backe said rookie Tony Tchani will see the field, so he could replace Joel Lindpere or Seth Stammler. New left winger Brian Nielsen was clearly winded Saturday as he was battling an illness, so he could get some pine time too. Either way, when it’s starters vs. subs, the Union probably come out on top.

Edge: Philadelphia

Philadelphia forwards vs. New York defense

Alejandro Moreno and Sebastien Le Toux look great together, with Le Toux repeatedly being the beneficiary of some beautiful passing from Moreno. If Jack McInerney could’ve headed home Fred’s perfect set-up pass Tuesday, it would’ve been a 2-2 ballgame.

As for the Red Bulls, figure on a back line with two of four starters, with backup goalkeeper Greg Sutton between the sticks. Again, starters vs. backups?

Edge: Philadelphia

Match-up to watch

Red Bulls starters vs. Red Bulls backups

Where will the biggest drop-offs in talent be from starter to sub for the Red Bulls? Watch for who sits, and that’s how you’ll know where to watch. The Red Bulls don’t have anyone who can match Angel’s quality up front or Lindpere’s ability in the midfield. Can the Union exploit a hole on the back line? It all depends on what lineup comes out for the Red Bulls.

What to expect

A half-empty stadium. Few Union fans making the trip. And what about television? Nada. This game was scheduled so late that many fans likely will not make the trip, particularly with the Red Bulls resting several starters. This game seems like an afterthought, replete with disorganization. We won’t even get to watch it. (Edit: Word came down after this was posted that the game is being streamed online, so that’s something.)

Prediction

The Union win 2-1. Starters beat subs, unless the Union make too many fatal mistakes again.

4 Comments

  1. Anywhere to find this online or on the radio?

    BigSoccer says no but isn’t there a USOC website that sometimes streams games? I remember finding SSFC online last year, albeit a much later round…

  2. Supposedly TheCup.us will have a live blog of this. Other than that, I think we’re SOL.

  3. http://nytv.neulion.com/mlsvp/

    It’s streamed here…

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