Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

This article has been updated after publication with details of the match being rescheduled.

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls

What: 2023 Leagues Cup, Round of 16

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Tuesday, August 8, 8:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

Philadelphia Union continue their run through the knockout stages of the U.S. Open Cup Leagues Cup, hosting familiar opponent New York Red Bulls in a rare Monday Tuesday night match at Subaru Park.

With a win, the Boys in Blue would host the winner of tonight’s game between Queretaro (who the Union already flattened 5-1 in group play) and another regional rival, New England Revolution.

Should the wins keep coming, Philly would host a semifinal against either the winner of tonight’s Houston-Charlotte matchup, or — enticingly — Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF, who advanced in a wild contest last night against FC Dallas.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. First, the Union need to deal with the Red Bulls. Games between these two sides can be summed up pretty simply: it’s like watching two toddlers pushing each other in a sandbox for 90 minutes, and then the Union win. Philly has not lost to the Red Bulls since 2019, a nine-match stretch that includes two playoff wins. And the New Jersey-based franchise hasn’t won a match in Chester since a 1-0 win in 2018.

If you’re heading down to the river tonight, take precautions: strong thunderstorms are in the forecast, with (at time of publication) a 60% chance of rain beginning at 6 p.m. and running through the duration of the match.

Update: Around 6 p.m. on Monday, Leagues Cup announced that the match was rescheduled due to the incoming storms, with kickoff now set for Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Scouting Report: New York Red Bulls

You know what you’re getting from Energy Drink soccer: a lot of running and a lot of kicking.

After a miserable start to MLS play, the Red Bulls fired embattled manager Gerhard Struber in May, the day after dropping a 1-0 loss to the Union at Red Bull Arena. His replacement, Troy Lesesne, has settled things down and gotten the team back into playoff range. With 26 points, they sit in 11th in the East, just four points back of D.C. United for the final playoff spot.

The Red Bulls are yet to lose in Leagues Cup play, winning a shootout after a scoreless draw with the Revolution before picking up a 2-1 win against San Luis to win their group. In the Round of 32, a first-half penalty converted by Omir Fernandez was enough to earn a victory against Hudson River rival New York City FC.

Former Union man Carlos Coronel will start in goal, while familiar foes like John Tolkin, Frankie Amaya, and Tom Barlow dot the Red Bulls’ lineup. Another Union alum, Cory Burke, did not make the matchday roster for the last Leagues Cup match; his status is unknown.

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

It wasn’t pretty, but Philadelphia did enough to ease past D.C. United on Thursday night in a penalty shootout. Olivier Mbaizo converted the winning penalty after a dreary 0-0 result in regulation that might have slightly flattered the lackluster Union.

Ball control is not the name of the game when the Union and Red Bulls play each other. Will Union manager Jim Curtin opt to match New York’s vertical play with his own 4-4-2, or stick with the 3-5-2 that he’s used for the last two matches? Will Jesus Bueno keep his place in midfield, or might this be a good opportunity for Jack McGlynn to get a start? The Union’s youngster had one of the best games of his brief professional career last season away against the Red Bulls.

New attacker Tai Baribo has been in full training with the Union over the last few days, and is in contention to make his first appearance with his new side.

Match-up to watch: Olivier Mbaizo or Nathan Harriel vs. John Tolkin

Tolkin, the interestingly coiffed 21-year-old left back, is one of New York’s more dynamic players, making his first three appearances for the U.S. men’s national team this year. Whether Curtin opts for Mbaizo or Harriel to match him on the right, they’ll be expected to keep the danger to a minimum.

Player to watch: Tai Baribo

New signings are fun! Someone like Baribo, who’s not a household name, is a mystery box. Who knows what he could be for the Union? If the Union need to chase the game late, will the new boy have a chance to make a memorable debut.

Prediction: Philadelphia 1-0 New York Red Bulls

This has all the makings of a weird one. A Monday night match, not much crowd expected, storms in the forecast. But I expect the Union’s run of dominance against their I-95 rivals to continue, maybe through a Dante Vanzeir own goal.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Tolkin is a hobbit!
    Kind of hoping that they decide to push the match back to tomorrow for everyone’s safety. If they do play tonight, there could be a lot of randomness depending on how the wind is blowing (literally, not figuratively).

  2. Here are the officials.
    Referee:Víctor Alfonso Cáceres Hernández
    Ast. Referee 1:Michel Alejandro Morales Morales
    Ast. Referee 2:Pablo Israel Hernández Luna
    Fourth official:Ismael Rosario Lopez Penuelas
    VAR:Diego Montaño Robles
    Ast. VAR:Jozef Batko

  3. Tornado Watch in effect until 11pm too. Stay safe everyone

  4. Game postponed till tomorrow at 8pm…good call

  5. Deez Nuggs says:

    If Union win they get to take on Queretero for a rematch. That’s a trap game as far as I’m concerned, because it’s all too easy to expect them to be a pushover and come out soft.
    Since Miami is taking on Charlotte, the money is on Miami to get through.
    Btw the Miami v Dallas game was absolute bonkers. Anyone that didn’t enjoy that… well. I don’t know what to do to help you.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I actually watched the first half of the Miami Dallas game. Went to sleep at half, cause 5:30am come early. I missed all the good stuff! Watched the highlights of course, but the highlights were crazy entertaining as well. A Messi matchup at Subaru would be wild

  6. Gotta be honest, I’m not a Eurosnob or MLS hater. I watch every Union match I can and have done so for about a decade now. Maybe it’s because I don’t watch a lot of other MLS matches, but the state of defending and goalkeeping in this leagues cup is comical. The two own goals in Miami – Dallas, especially Dallas’…. Sheesh! It’s kind of shocking how bad it is. I’ve seen a lot of stuff for the first time and it’s not good. Kind of amazing there aren’t more 4-5 games out there.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      That Dallas own goal was an excellent header!!

    • To be fair, the most egregious mistake I’ve seen was the Juarez keeper (this is vs LAFC) inexplicably punching a ball into the turf when he had every opportunity to just catch it and lofting it for Carols Vela to tidily chip it into a practically wide open goal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        You want ridiculous own goals, you should see Houston’s gobsmacker from last night’s loss to Charlotte. How you have an own goal from like 25 yards out, I have no idea…

      • I saw that, too. Unreal.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The own goal Spain gave up against Switzerland on Saturday was closer to 50 yards out. A horrid no look pass back to where she thought the keeper was.

  7. Vince Devine says:

    How can Baribo play if he hasn’t received his P-1 visa yet (or has he)? Also, wouldn’t he have had to be on the initial tournament roster?

    • Baribo is here in the U.S. — I don’t know what his visa status is, but he’s been in training.
      According to the tournament regulations, you can add players to the roster up to the end of the day on August 11, so that wouldn’t be a problem. (Technically, only player “substitutions” are allowed, but the Union have quite a few guys on their initial 30-man roster who don’t have a realistic chance of playing & could be substituted out.)

  8. Andy Muenz says:

    Weird lineup. Flach starting for Bueno and McGlynn for Uhre in a 3-5-2.

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