Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

Photo: Rob Simmons

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 2-1-3, 9 points) vs. New York Red Bulls (3-2-1)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Tuesday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: PHL 17, MSG,

Whistle: Referee: Rubiel Vazquez,  Assistant Referees:  Kathryn Nesbitt,Eric Weisbrod, 4th Official: Adam Kilpatrick, VAR: Malik Badawi, AVAR:Craig Lowry

Finally, the Union get to play a game at Subaru Park. One needs to flip the calendar all the way back to October 20, 2019 to recall the last time the Union were in Chester when they matched up against these same New York Red Bulls. That exhilarating 4-3 playoff win is indelibly etched in Union fan’s minds – while the Red Bull supporters are still slow-shuffling their way back to the tour buses in Lot A. Perhaps, the memory of that victory will be the tonic to wake the team up after last Thursday’s snooze-fest versus New England.

Scouting Report: New York

The Red Bulls are off to perhaps a better than expected start this season despite the loss of legendary striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and captain/goalkeeper Luis Robles.  In their first game in 28 days following a three-and-out at the MLS is Back Tournament the Red Bulls beat NYC FC 1-0 on a soft goal after being carved up on defense throughout much of the first half.

Like the sun coming up in the morning, one can count on the Red Bulls to remain consistent in their strategy. They employ a frenzied yet organized high press style of play that is de rigueur at Red Bull franchises throughout the world. Constant and relentless pressure leads to turnovers and quick counter attacks.

In their last game, Red Bulls Coach Chris Armas did change his lineup a bit, saving their best player, midfielder Kaku for the second half and tweaking the formation to a 4-2-3-1.  Expect a return to the 4-2-2-2 with Kaku returning to his starting role. Watch for Florain Valot and the aforementioned Kaku to perform some creative work in the midfield. Without Wright Phillips the Red Bulls lack a strong target at striker. 

Injury Report:   Out: None; Questionable: None

Scouting report: Union

The Union have continued to get results without playing their best soccer. Last week they earned a road point against New England despite being defensively porous through the midfield and lacking cohesion between the offensive lines.This has been a theme throughout this odd season but solid play at the center back and especially the goalkeeper positions have kept the Union near the top of the table. 

Going up against that Red Bulls press the Union will have to be sharp and confident with their passing.  Getting off to a quick start is paramount as the Red Bulls are dominant when scoring first (since 2015: 72-21-17 when scoring first; 14-42-11 when not).  This means that the midfield will need to be dominant.  Jamiro Monteiro was all over the field last week and had a team high 72 touches.  Unfortunately, Brendon Aaronson only had 39 touches.  Some balance is required with these attacking mids. And, this evergreen statement… Jose Martinez will need to avoid any cards. 

Lineup changes are never extensive on this team and this week should not be an exception. Kai Wagner is fully healthy this week and is expected to start replacing Matt Real who filled in for him last week.  Coach Curtin mentioned rotating the center backs so the insertion of defender Jakob Glesnes in place of, most likely, Jack Elliott is a possibility.  Finally, forward Kacper Przybylko looked a bit more active and confident against New England so don’t expect to see Andrew Wooten on the field in the first 65 minutes.

Injury Report: Questionable: Kai Wagner (d) (note: will play), Aurelien Collin (d) 

Key Matchup:  Union Forwards vs Red Bulls Press

The Union had a tough time beating the New England press last week.  New York’s will be much tougher.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybylko

He has had a tough stretch but looked better last game.  Expect a redemption match.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 New York


Philadelphia Union:  +135

New York Red Bulls: +205

For you degenerate gamblers…I suggest you bet on the winning team.


  1. Union definitely need to score first. Dare we ask for Gaddis to sit this one out and allow both left and right defenders to push forward, assuming Wagner is in?

  2. Regarding the crowd noise for tonight…whether or not you like the crowd noise being pumped into the broadcast, it is a pretty cool idea to have a fan of the home team choosing when and what recorded chants play and all that.

    • This might be the most entertaining reason to watch the match. Hope I’m wrong of course, but I’m genuinely going to tune in with extra attentiveness.
      It probably deserves its own “live tweet” conversation thread. And a post-match rating. 🙂

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It’d be great if in the middle of the game we start hearing “Roger Torres, Roger Torres”

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