Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

What: MLS Cup Playoffs

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, November 20th 2:30pm

Watch:, Univision, TUDN, PHL17

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

Two years ago, the New York Red Bulls traveled to Chester for a playoff matchup with the Philadelphia Union. After taking two separate two goal leads, New York saw a 3-1 margin disappear in the second half and the game heading to extra time. Philadelphia found a winner through Marco Fabian shortly before the midway point of that extra session, which held up to give the Union their first ever playoff win.

Will another matchup with the Red Bulls turn into Philadelphia’s second playoff win, or will New York avenge their 2019 defeat?

Scouting Report: New York Red Bulls

New York is coming into the playoffs confident and in a run of good form. Coach Gerhard Struber was even so bold as to predict a win in his media availability.

In their last 10 games of the regular season, the Red Bulls posted a record of 6-1-3, including a 1-1 tie with Philadelphia at Red Bull Arena. New York also did not allow more than 1 goal in any of those games, posting 6 shutouts during the run. Despite being hard to score against, New York has also struggled to put the ball in the net, only scoring more than one goal in the span of those 10 games once.

New York is very content to play a defensive game and try to hit on the counter.

Leading the staunch back line are defenders Sean Nealis, who is capable of playing in central defense as well as on the right, Andres Reyes, who is usually the big man in the center, and John Tolkin, who occupies the left side. Midfielders Kyle Duncan and Caden Clark also can act as wingbacks to help New York recover defensively and push the attack forward.

In the middle looking to link with Duncan and Clark are captain Sean Davis and the energetic Dru Yearwoood. Yearwood brings a more physical presence while Davis can cover ground and link passes.

Leading the way for the New York attack is Fabio Gomes Netto, who’s tallied 7 times so far this season playing centrally. On his right is Cristian Casseres Jr, the speedy Colombian who has notched 6 goals so far this year. On the left is Polish attacker Patryk Klimala, who has 8 goals and 6 assists to his name.

In net will be a familiar face for Philadelphia fans, as Carlos Miguel Coronel returns to Philadelphia.

Injury Report: Out – Aaron Long

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Union

Much like New York, the Union had a very impressive final 10 games of the regular season, posting a record of 5-1-4 in that span, including being on a current 5 game winning streak at Subaru Park.

Up top don’t be surprised to see Kacper Przybylko get the start again with a possible Sergio Santos sighting alongside him. Coach Jim Curtin revealed that Santos has returned to full match fitness after missing several weeks. Daniel Gazdag and Jamiro Montiero are also candidates to start in an attacking role in Philadelphia’s new “Christmas Tree” formation, one brought on due to injuries to their striker corps.

The midfield should remain relatively unchanged as well after a few good outings to close out the regular season. Leon Flach, Jose Martinez and Alejandro Bedoya all provide the two-way responsibility needed for Philadelphia to support one of the best defenses in the league. Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn could also provide an offensive spark off the bench if needed. Newcomer Jesus Bueno has also made appearances as a late sub to help see out results.

The back four for Philadelphia will also likely not see changes, after being one of the best units in the league in 2021. Jack Elliott and Jacob Glesnes have been one of, if not the best, center-back pairings in the league, while Olivier Mbazio will look to build on a solid season (in Philadelphia and with Cameroon), while Kai Wagner hopes to re-write the story of his underwhelming performance from last years playoffs. Speaking of which, Andre Blake will also be looking for a better performance than the one he had in 2019 against New York, where he was caught out on several goals amidst his worst full campaign as professional.

Injury Report: None

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Experience

Experience is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the playoffs.

New York is a younger team that for the most part, one that hasn’t experienced a Major League Soccer knockout match. Philadelphia on the other hand has a squad in which the vast majority of players have featured in the playoffs in back to back to back seasons, and has learned the secrets of how to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League as well.

Advantage Philadelphia.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag 

Gazdag is one of the few Philadelphia players who has no experience in the MLS playoffs, but he did show some skill in recent World Cup qualifiers with Hungary (2 goals in 2 games). Gazdag has shown his chemistry with his teammates in recent weeks and is only just growing into this Philadelphia side. That’s good timing.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1-0 New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia claims their second playoff win over New York in a tight defensive battle settled by an Alejandro Bedoya goal.

Philadelphia = +120
NYRB= +255
Draw = +225


  1. Ilson Jr. is also healthy and will be on the game day roster, according to JC.

    • Oh no. If Illsinho is the first sub in exactly minute 60 I’m going to kick a hole in my TV.

    • Curtin may be playing the Ilsinho card to mess with New York’s heads.
      He cannot be anywhere close to being match fit.
      Do remember that the so-called Ilsinho game occurred against a reserve NYRB left back, not a starter.

  2. Can’t wait to watch this game in person, and if possible, to yell IIIIILLLLSSSIIIIIINHOOOOOOO maybe for the last time

  3. How can there be (why would there be) a line for a draw. Won’t this go to Pens if its tied after extra time ?

  4. I’d like to see the Union actually put away a clincher and win 2-0.

  5. This is going to be a tough one. Red Bull has been really stingy and we’re not exactly a goal-scoring team. Fortunately, neither are they. This looks most likely to end in pens.

  6. Wag the 'dog. says:

    If the Union find a way to go over the top of the press consistently, they’ll have a chance.

    This is no longer a “fight fire with fire” kind of matchup.

    Elliott is the key for me. Will watch his passing with great intent.

  7. Here are the officials, as per PRO this morning at 9:30.
    Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls
    Subaru Park (2:30PM ET)
    REF: Fotis Bazakos
    AR1: Frank Anderson
    AR2: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
    4TH: Rubiel Vazquez
    VAR: Geoff Gamble
    AVAR: Andrew Bigelow

  8. Montiero and Mbazio are out

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