Match previews

Match preview: New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2021: 5-4-3, 19 points, 3rd place in the East) vs.New York Red Bulls (5-1-5, 16 points, 7th place in the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season.  

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

When: Thursday,  July 8 at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+,

Whistle: Referee: Victor Rivas, Assistant Referees: Eric Weisbrod, Jeffrey Greeson. 4th Official: Joshua Encarnacion, VAR: Daniel Radford

One advantage of a 34-game season is knowing that if you come out and drop one in an uninspired fashion, there’s always plenty more matches to turn it around (unless it’s the 34th match of course). 

The Union will have the opportunity to turn it around  Thursday at 8:00 against the New York Red Bulls.  This is following a lackluster effort against Nashville this past Saturday where the Union seemed to be sleepwalking. They’ll need to wake up and nothing puts the caffeine in the coffee like a game against the Red Bulls.

The last time these two teams met was at Subaru Park back on May 15.  It was a hard fought match with Corey Burke’s 9th minute goal the only scoring of the night.  That game marked the 4th straight win over the Red Bulls for the Union, a trend they hope will continue.

Scouting Report: Red Bulls

Overall, the Red Bulls are having an up and down year but are coming off perhaps their biggest win of the year, a 2-1 victory over Orlando City.  In that game, The Red Bulls saw contributions from two of their current year’s big acquisitions, a goal by striker Fabio and two assists by his counterpart up top, Patryk Klimala. The Red Bulls have won their last four home matches in a row.

The New York Red Bulls strategy has not changed.  Using a high line they try to trap with counter presses looking to make the opposition move backwards and towards the sidelines. Then pounce on a misstep, gain possession and begin their counterattack while already in their opponents half of the field.  This strategy has been successful but relies on the coordination and fitness of the players.  Any mistake by them as they press high, especially with their fullbacks who like to do so, can leave their backline vulnerable to counter attacks.

Young phenom and top scorer Caden Clark, fresh off a transfer/sale to RB Leipzig, will miss this game as he recovers from appendix issues. And old friend goalkeeper Carlo Coronel is second in the league with four clean sheets.

Injury report: Youba Diarra (M); Caden Clark (M); Andrew Gutman (D); 

Aaron Long (M); Danny Royer (M); Andres Reyes(D)

Suspended:  None

Scouting report: Union

By now it’s not a mystery as to how the Union will approach this (or any) game.  But they will need to improve upon recent performances.  Last game, Daniel Gazdag earned his first start with the Union but was mostly quiet as the #8.  We should expect that he will move up to the #10 allowing Monteiro to move back to his usual spot on the left side of the midfield.  Repositioning Jameiro Monteiro back to the #8 would also help break the press and assist in the link-up play.  Jose Martinez should be available to put in a full shift thus giving the Union its first extended look at their new and improved midfield.

Up top, Corey Burke will not be available as he is on team Jamaica for the Concacaf Gold Cup Tournament.  So it will be up to Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybyłko, both of whom have been very quiet of late – to make some noise. The Union have won “goal of the week” the past two weeks, someone will need to step up and continue the trend.

Defensively, the back line has been a bit off too.  They will  need to step it up as Andre Blake will not be there to clean up any messes.  Yes, the reigning Goalkeeper of the Year is joining Burke and Alvas Powell on the Jamaican National team and will likely miss most of July. Presumptive starter Matt Freese is a fine player but certainly can’t match Blake.

Injury Report:  OUT: Jack De Vries (F); Ilsinho (M); 

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup:  Union Midfield vs Red Bulls Press

The Union midfield will need to be both fast and clinical with the ball and not allow the Red Bulls the opportunity to set up their press.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

Gazdag should get the opportunity to start at the 10 and show us what he has.  The Union have needed some help in creating and will need a contribution from him now and going forward

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 New York


Philadelphia Union:    +225

NY Red Bulls:   +110

Draw:   +260


  1. NE and Orlando lost last night. This is a great game to win to really put us in that top 3 and keep pace.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      NE drew and Orlando lost last Saturday (the first was over before the Union game started and the second by halftime) but the Union were unable to take advantage of the situation.

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