This Saturday night the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union will meet for the third time this year in what could affectionately be called the "This is not a rivalry" rivalry. The last time the two teams met, the Red Bulls were embarrassed by a 3-0 beat down at PPL Park that saw Lloyd Sam sent off the pitch early in the match. Philadelphia's attack proved too much for the depleted Red Bulls and they easily put the game to bed. With the series tied at 1-1, this will be something of a rubber match. The Sons of Ben are probably salivating at the chance to gloat about being the better team this season while the three supporter's groups of the South Ward have most likely forgotten the Union even exists. Regardless, Philadelphia is a much improved team over the side that New York has been dominating over the last few years.
Here's what we know:
- Conor Casey is licking his chops.
Conor Casey seems like the kind of guy who genuinely just doesn't like puppies. I'm sure he tolerates them and probably even tells people he thinks they're cute, but when it comes right down to it, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he held them in contempt for being weak. That's the kind of guy we're dealing with here. One thing we can be certain of is that the former US international loves to score against New York. Casey has already bagged three goals in two matches and will be looking to add to that total this Saturday. New York center back Markus Holgersson will have to play at his best to keep the bald forward at bay.
- New York is healthy again!
Unless Thierry Henry comes down with another surprise "achilles flare up," the Red Bulls should be going into this weekend's match at full strength. Mike Petke has said that Henry will be "100 percent" available and that Tim Cahill has also been cleared to play, though no one is sure just how many minutes he'll get. Word is still out on whether or not Lloyd Sam will be active as he is still nursing a quad knock suffered two weeks ago in Kansas City. Still, there's little doubt that the Red Bulls are a better team when their two Designated Players are in the lineup.
The Philadelphia Union has NEVER gotten a result in Red Bull Arena. Look for that trend to continue.
Here's what we don't know:
- That midfield is still a toss up.
I really hate to repeat myself here, but the Red Bulls midfield is a complete question mark. Now that Cahill is back in the picture does that mean Ibrahim Sekagya will be sent back to the bench? Will Bradley Wright-Phillips show up in time with his P-1 visa in tow? If he does, will we see him inserted into the right side to allow Eric Alexander a "rest" or will he take over Fabian Espindola's spot up top? Speaking of P-1 visas, could this Saturday mark the first appearance of New York's latest signing, David Carney? Heading into the final third of the regular season, these are questions that need to be answered sooner rather than later.
Here's what we think we know:
- The Red Bulls will continue their dominance over the Union at Red Bull Arena
Coming off of a bad loss at Columbus, you can bet that New York is going to head into this game with something to prove. Look for the Red Bulls to hit the ground running on Saturday night and don't expect them to hit the breaks until the final whistle. This game is personal for a number of reasons. Red Bulls will win 2-1 with goals coming from Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.
Doop doop doop...etc and what have you.