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 Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

It’s the first meeting of the season between what are currently the top two teams in MLS’s Eastern Conference, as New York Red Bulls travel south to face Philadelphia in Chester.

The last meeting between these two teams looked bound for penalty kicks in the MLS playoffs, until Jacob Glesnes scored the game’s only goal — a wonder goal for the ages — in the 119th minute. Philadelphia will have to be wary of New York on the road, as they haven’t dropped a point all season and are currently on a five-game road winning streak. The Union will look to end that streak and protect their one-point lead on top of the East.

Scouting Report: New York Red Bulls

This New York side hasn’t undergone much change since the last time they met Philadelphia in the playoffs, except for time. Time has allowed for coach Gerhard Struber to implement his system and fine tune it with the players he has available, while centerback Aaron Long recovered from an Achilles injury suffered in Chester last season.

New York hasn’t been short of goals all season, but hasn’t found a true number one goal scoring threat so far this season. In a goals by committee approach, Red Bull has many attacking options to chose from including: Tom Barlow, Omir Fernandez, Ashley Fletcher and Patryk Klimala. Out of those attacking options, Klimala has been the most lethal, notching three goals and three assists this season, with Barlow behind him notching two goals.

New York’s most prolific attacker though is starting in the midfield though, with Miami arrival Lewis Morgan providing four goals so far this year, including a hat trick against Toronto FC. Also providing some offense from the midfield is new man Lucas Lima Linhares, with the Brazilian providing two goals and four assists in all competitions so far. In the middle are Cristian Casseres and Frankie Amaya, who will look to win second balls and spread the attack wide. On the flanks are John Tolkin and Dylan Nealis, who will operate more as wing-backs.

In the back is the always sturdy central defender in Aaron Long, although the USMNT man did pick up a injury in New York’s Open Cup match. He is listed as day to day. On the right is Sean Nealis and on the left is Thomas Edwards. In goal is former Union goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel, who has had a strong two years in New York now.

Injury Report: Out – Andres Reyes, Caden Clark

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Union

Philadelphia will be looking to continue their strong start to league play after a disappointing defeat in the U.S. Open Cup, a game in which they rested most of their starting XI . Philadelphia has been one of the strongest sides in league play through the first 10 games, only recording one defeat. The Union have also been strong at home, posting a record of 3-0-2 and taking 11 out of a possible 15 points.

Philadelphia has seen its attack starting to generate more offense as Julian Carranza looks to be a new player from his Inter Miami days, notching four goals and three assists in just nine games so far this season. Strike partner Mikael Uhre also has gotten off the mark, notching his first goal two weeks ago against Nashville. Uhre has been dealing with a slight injury in recent weeks though and is not expected to start on Saturday. A main driver of the offense from the midfield is Daniel Gazdag, who has had noted success this season, collecting five goals and three assists in 10 games.

Philadelphia should look unchanged in its midfield diamond set-up. Gazdag will be running up top with Alejandro Bedoya and Leon Flach occupying the wings behind him. Flach provided some offense last time out in LA, showing some growth in his game. At the base is stalwart defender and ball winner Jose Martinez, who continues to prove to be one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.

In the back the Union will bring out the pairing of Jack Elliott and Jacob Glesnes, who have been among the best in the league in recent years, sporting a goals against average near the top of the league. On the left is Kai Wagner, with the German providing a great assist against LAFC and continuing to be a ground covering defender. On the right is homegrown Nathan Harriel, who has put together strong performances week after week for Philadelphia. In goal will be 2021 MLS All Star Andre Blake, who will be looking for another clean sheet against New York.

Injury Report: Questionable – Mikael Uhre

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup:  Pressing and possession.

Both of these teams are built on the same playing style, one where they both don’t really want the ball. Philadelphia has continually said they don’t particularly care about possession numbers, as long as they take their chances. New York is similar with their pressing style. Both teams will look for the other to make a mistake with the ball to set up their chances, one lose pass could decide this match.

Player to Watch: Alejandro Bedoya 

Bedoya has been getting up there in age, and there has been worry if the captain has the legs to continue a full season with Philadelphia’s play style. He covered a lot of ground against LAFC last week and Philadelphia will need a repeat performance to avoid any New York counters. Bedoya will also be key in linking with the offense out of the press.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1-0 New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia keeps their strong home form run going and hands New York their first road loss thanks to a Julian Carranza goal.

Philadelphia = +140
NYRB= +210
Draw = +230


  1. Defense stands strong in this one… with a cool, calm Martinez quarterbacking.

    Offense scoring 2 goals… and we’re still in 1st place… heading into Wednesday’s game vs Miami.

    Very glad we’re out of US Open Cup… Total focus on hosting MLS Cup 2022.


  2. Long is questionable for RBNY. CCJ is out for NY with yellow cards.

  3. Deez Nuggs says:

    I’m in the house tomorrow. Put on a show! DOOP!

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Prediction: Union 30% possession. NJ 35% possession. Remaining 35% ball just sits there while both teams say, “You take it.”

  5. Evildunk99 says:

    This one is hard to predict given the similarities between the two teams. All of the stats say this one is a low scoring tie, but I think we are all hopeful that the U are able to take 3 points, returning home from a brutal stretch of travel. Something to watch – is Curtin finally fed up with Burke as a ST sub? Perhaps he rewards Aaronson with more minutes? I wouldn’t mind seeing the young UII transfer Riasco make a spot appearance (unlikely I know).

    My perpetual optimism yields a 2-0 win for the U (Santos & Bedoya)

    • Riasco isn’t even getting minutes for U2, though. Not sure if it is a match fitness issue, or if he is just taking some time to be a tactical fit, but he’s not even getting late game, off-the-bench minutes to find his form. I doubt we see him with the senior club any time soon.

  6. I think Curtin will straighten out the defense and they’ll play for the shutout tomorrow. My prediction matches Sean’s 1-0 but I think they get the goal from a defender off a set piece scrum. I’ll give it to Glesnes as he continues to build his case for being the Pink Cow Slayer!

  7. Based on nothing, I feel a blow out win for the Union.

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