A three game away stretch for the Union is about to come to an end with a visit to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Victory against the Red Bulls and a New England Revolution loss against Sporting Kansas City would allow the Union to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2011. With two of their last three games against the Red Bulls, the Union have a chance to move up in the standings. A sweep of the Red Bulls would allow the Union, who currently sit 6 points behind the Red Bulls, to catch up. Wins are needed for this team to keep their first round home field advantage spot as both Montreal and DC United are just one win coupled with a Union loss away from bypassing Philly in the standings. Red Bulls on the other hand are in a slightly different position. The Red Bulls have already clinched a playoff berth and are trying to secure a first round bye in the playoffs. Currently, sitting just one point behind Toronto FC and tied with NYCFC, the Red Bulls are in a position where a sweep of the Union would be a huge advantage to them.
The Union have faced the Red Bulls twice already, once in the regular season and once in the US Open Cup. June 29 in the Open Cup was the first time these two teams met this year. Winning by a score of 2 to 1, the Union rallied to win after going down a goal in the first half thanks to two Chris Pontius’ goals in the 2nd half of play. The regular season game had a similar feel to the first game. Red Bulls went up 2 goals in the first, only for Philly to tie it up after a Sapong’s pk goal and a Pontius’ goal in the 2nd half. While the first two games were played at Talen Energy Stadium, this game will mark the first time this season that the Union travel to Red Bull Arena.
While the Union have been able to rally back against the Red Bulls this season, it was the opposite story last week when Toronto FC rallied back against the Union to pick up a point. Alejandro Bedoya gave the Union the lead in the 25th minute with a beautiful chip (video below). Tempo of the game was controlled mostly by Philly in the first half only for Toronto to come alive in the 2nd half and find an equalizer in the 70th minute thanks to defender Justin Morrow. Toronto continued the pressure on the Union, with Jozy Altidore hitting the post minutes before stoppage time. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Philly claiming a huge point on the road.
A few player notes to take notice of. Last week, Tranquillo Barnetta missed the game due to injury but should be able to play a role in this week’s game. Ilsinho is still dealing with a small injury and will probably come off the bench again, allowing Fabian Herbers to keep his starting job on the right flank. Maurice will probably travel with the team again with week.
Predictions and observations for this week’s game:
-Predicted Score line: 1-1 draw
-Predicted Union Lineup: Blake, Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry, Carroll, Bedoya, Pontius, Barnetta, Herbers, Sapong.
-Fabian Herbers has had an assist in each of the last three games and currently leads the team with 7 assists.
-CJ Sapong is currently sitting on a 7 game scoreless drought.
-Tranquillo Barnetta announced that he will not be returning to the Union after this season.