Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 4-2-3 15 points) vs New York Red Bulls (3-4-2, 11 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison N.J.

When: Sunday, September 6th 7:00 p.m.

Watch: PHL 17, MSG, ESPN+

Whistle: Not Available at time of publication

It wasn’t long ago when these two teams last met at Subaru Park, with the Union coming away with a 1-0 win thanks to a Kacper Przybylko goal. Both teams are coming off a disappointing result, the Union feel 1-0 in Columbus after being unable to find the finishing touch. New York also had a night to forget, falling 1-0 to a very short-handed and out of form DC United at home.

Scouting Report: New York

It’s been a slow start for New York, who fired coach Chris Armas this morning as a result. An interim coach for this weekend’s match hasn’t been named yet.

The Red Bulls haven’t exactly gotten their offense going this season, proving more difficult to replace Bradley Wright-Phillips than originally thought. Out of their 9 regular season games so far, New York has only managed to score more than 1 goal only once, their season opener against Cincinnati was the only one. Since then, they’ve been shut out four times and scored 1 goal in their other four games. The regular season restart also hasn’t been kind to NYRB, they started off with a win over rivals NYCFC, then failed to find a win against Philadelphia, New England and DC, posting a record of 1-1-2.

New York has been struggling to find chemistry up front, rotating Tom Barlow and Brian White at striker, with Daniel Royer and Florian Valot on the wings. One player who has been featuring more for the Red Bulls is Kaku, who has started the last two matches after coming off the bench last time out against the Union. Another attacker who has been coming into the fold lately is young homegrown Omir Fernandez. Fernandez only featured in the last 10 minutes the last time these teams met, but like Kaku has worked his way into the starting lineup the last two games.

In the back, New York’s backline has stayed relatively consistent, with Kyle Duncan and Jason Pendant featuring on the flanks and getting up into attack. Aaron Long has been the longtime leader in the center, with the USMNT man usually paired with Tim Parker, although Sean Nealis got the start next to Long last game. Goalkeeping has also been an unsolvable question for NYRB with the departure of Luis Robles. David Jensen was brought in as a replacement during the offseason, and started the games at MLS is Back due to an injury to Ryan Meara. Meara is now the starter in goal, featuring in New York’s regular season games since the restart.

Injury Report:   Out: None; Questionable: None

Scouting report: Union

The Union are looking to find their finishing touch Sunday night, after missing numerous chances to find a goal in Columbus. The Union were able to easily get around the Red Bull press in their last meeting, finding a lot of space down the right side of the attack.

What has become evident from the Columbus game is that the Union are a team much more equipped to hold onto a lead then to find an equalizer. In their 2 wins since the regular season, the Union were able to score within 25 minutes or sooner. Attacking subs have also not been effective in the second half, Ilsinho hasn’t found his usual magic yet and Andrew Wooten still can’t buy his first MLS goal. Jim Curtin has also been rotating the squad regularly with the span of games, rotating members of his back line and attacking unit. One area of the field we haven’t seen rotation is in the midfield, with Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro and Jose Martinez starting each match. Martinez and Monteiro will have to be extra cautious, as a yellow card will result in a suspension for yellow card accumulation for either player.

With the recent lineup rotations to the back line, we should see the normal starting four for the Union. Ray Gaddis and Kai Wagner should be patrolling the flanks, although Wagner is listed as questionable with a lower leg injury. McKenzie and Elliott have proven that they are the Union’s best centerback pairing, not giving up many good looks since the season restart. Andre Blake has also been solid since the restarting, only allowing 2 goals in 4 games, one he had no shot of saving.

Injury Report: Questionable: Kai Wagner, Out: Aurelien Collin

Key Matchup:  Union Forwards vs Finishing

It’s gonna be an internal battle for the Union strikers. They were flying high after the win against DC, and then couldn’t find a goal in Columbus. They’ll be looking for consistency, and hopefully the form against DC is the one that returns.

Player to Watch: Alejandro Bedoya

Bedoya has played a lot of minutes since the restart, and hasn’t looked liked himself. Hopefully the extra 30 minutes rest in Columbus helps him find the energy levels the Union need from their midfield captain.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 New York

Kacper Przybylko and Brenden Aaronson get on the scoresheet for the Union, finding their finishing again. New York gets a late one back but the Union hold out for 3 points.

Philadelphia: +220
New York:  +115
Draw: +255

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