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, PA

When: Sunday, September 3, 7:55 Kick-off

Watch: Apple TV (Free), FS1

Whistle: REF: Rubiel Vazquez, AR1: Matthew Nelson, AR2: Eric Weisbrod, 4TH: Rosendo Mendoza, VAR: Edvin Jurisevic, AVAR: TJ Zablocki

The Union look to rebound from their midweek loss at Toronto when they take on their main rival New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening at Subaru Park.

The Union are unbeaten in 11 straight matches against the Red Bulls in all competitions (W7, D4) including their most recent victory on August 8th, via shootout, in the Round of 16 in the inaugural League’s Cup.

The 11 match unbeaten run is Philadelphia longest unbeaten run against any opponent in all competitions in club history.

Scouting Report:  New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls have lost four of their last five regular season matches and have earned just 29 points through 26 matches this season (1.11 pts per match).

This represents the fewest points New York has had at this stage of a season since 2009, which was the last time the Red Bulls failed to make the playoffs.

Like the Union, the Red Bulls also lost their midweek match, getting shutout 0-1 on the road against New England.

Despite their struggles, New York sits just three points behind ninth place Chicago for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.  Needless to say, head coach Troy Lesesne’s side will be coming to Chester on Sunday fighting hard for all three points.

In terms of who is likeliest to find the back of the net, it’s anyone’s guess.  The club’s top scorer this season, Frankie Amaya, has managed to score just 4 times.  Omir Fernandez is next best with three.

Five of their players have netted two goals, including ex-Union man Corey Burke, while another six players sit at one goal apiece.

No one on this Red Bull squad has quite stepped up this year to help them steal points from matches, which is perhaps why they find themselves in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.  But there is still plenty of time for someone to do so, and this Sunday’s match against the Union would be a perfect time to get things rolling.

Player Availability: Dante Vanzeir (Questionable, Hamstring), Lewis Morgan (Out, Hip), Steven Sserwadda (Out, Knee), Serge Ngoma (Out, Hamstring)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

Head coach Jim Curtin’s squad had a rough evening this past Wednesday, leaving Toronto on the wrong side of  a 3-1 final score.

On Wednesday, Toronto looked better in the final third than they have looked all year.  And they also did a solid job defensively, limiting the Union to just 2 shots on goal.

One positive was forward Julian Carranza kept his strong season rolling, scoring his 11th goal of the season, which leads the club.

Two negatives: the red card awarded to Jesus Bueno in the dying seconds of the match, and the yellow to Jose Martinez, making both unavailable for selection in Sunday’s match.

Jim Curtin also announced at Friday’s press conference that Leon Flach will likely require surgery for his sports hernia injury, likely missing the rest of the regular season as a result.

The loss dropped the Union down two spots in the Eastern Conference to 4th place.

It still looks like likely that Union are a top 4 side in the East, but with a crowded playoff field, and just 4 points separating them from 7th place Nashville, there is little room for error as they come up on the home stretch of the season and try and secure home-field advantage in the best-of-3, 1st round of the playoffs.

Player Availability – Jesus Bueno (Out, Red Card Suspension); Jose Martinez (Out, Yellow Card Accumulation) Leon Flach (Out, Injury)

Match-up to Watch: Wings

Union-Redbull games can tend to be a bit of cluster you-know-what, with both teams deploying similar, chaotic playing styles.  Finding space on the wings in transition can open up opportunities for both sides.

Player to Watch: Jack McGlynn

His poise on the ball and ability to play positive, forward-thinking passes will be useful in this match.

Prediction: Union 2 – 2 Red Bulls

This one should be a classic high-octane, energy-drink soccer match from these two rivals.


  1. With the midfield depleted the team will have to use the same 5-3-2 that essentially didn’t work against NJ in the Leagues Cup.
    Couple that with the fact that NJ should have had a red card for a similar play as Bueno last game but had a VAR who let it slide, they are closer to full strength.
    Prediction: 0-3. After letting Toronto end their long winless streak, the Union let NJ end their long winless streak in this rivalry and hit rock bottom at home.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      While I do think this game will be a bit of a struggle given the way NJ plays and the Union having multiple players out… there is no chance they lose 3-0 at home. Like the author of this article, I predict a slogging draw.

  2. The top three candidates for defensive mid are out or questionable, while the fourth and fifth have been loaned out.
    Logic says McGlynn next to Bedoya as a double six in a 4-2-2-2 “empty bucket,” but the first team have never deployed that in the last few years that I remember.

  3. Curtin announced at his press conference today that Leon Flach will likely miss the rest of the regular season, as he needs surgery and rest on his sports hernia injury. The preview has been updated.

    • Sounds like he’s been playing with the hernia all season. No wonder he didn’t seem up to his self from last year.

  4. A beautiful night to pummel the Pink Cows and continue our march to hosting MLS Cup in Chester in 2023. Forget Toronto and DOOPin’ WIN.

    Wish I could be there… First regular season match missed in a long, long, long time.


  5. Diamond with Elliott at the base, Lowe and Glesnes in the back?

    • I would bet on a 5-3-2 or variation there on. Lowe, Glesnes and Eliot as a back three, Mbaizo and Wagner as wings, McGlynn, Gazdag and Bedoya attacking behind Carranza and Uhre. Personally, I’d rather see a 4-3-3 here, but I don’t think it’s what Jim will do.

  6. Murphthesurf says:

    All the other eastern conference teams are doing their best to keep you in contention, just get out there and WIN – DOOP IT UP!!!

  7. PhillyBear1872 says:

    Big derby today, Get into these b*******s.

    Put them in their place and show them who Philly are. Seen a recent derby between Rangers FC and Celtic FC and Rangers managed to lose the game despite being home and looking the better side.

    Let’s go Philly, We Are The Philly.

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