Match previews / Union

Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls

Game time: Saturday, 7 p.m.


Dwayne De Rosario will try out his new Red Bulls uniform in one of Major League Soccer’s newest rivalries as his New York squad comes to Chester to take on Philadelphia Union.

De Rosario assisted on a goal less than two minutes after coming on at halftime in his first game last week, raising hopes that he is the missing piece that could turn the Red Bulls (1-0-2) into the league’s best team. With a striker partnership featuring the league’s most exciting veteran import and most promising young striker in Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo, New York looks like a team set to make a title run. This year’s additions of De Rosario and Teemu Tainio to a midfield mix that already included perhaps the league’s fastest winger, Dane Richards, and craftiest playmaker in Joel Lindpere could give New York the league’s best midfield. Meanwhile, the backline features the league’s best passing center back duo in Rafa Marquez and Tim Ream. If this team has a weakness, it’s in goal, where Bouna Coundoul has a knack for the spectacularly good and even more spectacularly bad.

The Union (2-1-0) are coming off what might have been their most exciting match of the season, but it’s hard to say because just about nobody actually saw the U.S. Open Cup loss on penalty kicks to D.C. United. Newcomers Keon Daniel and Michael Farfan got their first starts of the regular season on the midfield flanks, but only time will tell if Union manager Peter Nowak deploys either of them against New York. The team had struggled to score goals before that new lineup put two in the net Wednesday, with forwards Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux stumbling in their interplay with new signing Carlos Ruiz up top. Fortunately, the back line has been top flight so far this season. They’ll need to be against an attack that should be the league’s best once (if) they gel.

Probable starters


Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Keon Daniel, Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa, Sebastien Le Toux

Forwards: Danny Mwanga, Carlos Ruiz

New York

Goalkeeper: Buona Coundoul

Defenders: Jan Gunnar Solli, Rafa Marquez, Tim Ream, Roy Miller

Midfielders: Joel Lindpere, Dwayne De Rosario, Teemu Tainio, Dane Richards

Forwards: Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia: OUT: MF Gabe Farfan (R little toe sublux); PROBABLE: DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus). SUSPENDED: Jack McInerney (red card against Los Angeles).

New York: OUT: DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery); GK Greg Sutton (concussion).


Red Bulls win 2-1—if Nowak starts the same team he’s sent out for each of the regular season games (i.e. two holding midfielders, with Ruiz clogging up the Mwanga-Le Toux partnership). If he adds some legitimate outside midfielders like Daniel or Michael Farfan to the mix and slides Kyle Nakazawa inside, as he did against D.C. United, it could be a whole different ballgame. New York has more talent, but each of these teams is still gelling.

(Photo: Paul Rudderow)


  1. I agree with the statement that having 2 holding mids + Nakazawa hinders this team. I like Naka playing inside for 1 of the 2 holders and allowing another winger to come on. We shall see.

  2. I’m really on edge about this one. They can’t keep relying on Ruiz loitering inside the 6 and having some errant attempt at clearing bounce his way for the quick put back. That’s not offense. That’s luck. It’s amazing to see how this years team is the polar opposite of last year. A whole season of shoddy defense and attacking offense has now been completely reversed this season. I’ll be there and I’ll be cheering loudly but I don’t feel good about this game at all.

  3. Definitely unsure about how this one will pan out. RBNY looks scary on paper, but their performances have been sub-par. Hopefully the home field/12th man advantage will garner us a result. Mapp is supposedly ready to rock, and would prefer to see only one DM, so I’d like to see a lineup like this:
    ——–Le Toux (AM)——–
    ——–Carroll (DM)———

  4. I’m extremely unsure and concerned about this game. I believe that the red bulls will dominate possession and dictate the flow of the match. They will struggle to score but eventually will while our offense will remain inaffective. The later they score the better for the scoreline as I beleive that we are unable to chase a game at this point (Galaxay match comes to mind). I absolutely hope to eat my words come saturday night but realistically I believe that the bulls have a better built to win now squad. The key for the union to win will be whether or not Nowak makes a tactical change. I imagine any club the reviewed our last three league games will be confident they could get a result against the team we have started the past three games.

    My lineup would be:
    Torres……………………Mapp (if 100%)

    What I think Nowak will start:

    That being said, C’MON the U!!!!!!! Last years win felt great against these guys and I would love to feel that feeling once again!!!!!

  5. Dan Walsh says:

    Yep, that’s the catch: The Union have a lot of talent we haven’t really seen much of yet. Legitimate outside midfielders could change the game. But this Red Bulls team is just stacked. Either way, this is an awesome game to have tickets to.

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