As we traipse toward the finale of the Red Bulls' mid-season three-games-in-seven-days stretch, there's a number of story lines to beat to death before Saturday's 2:30 kick-off against the Philadelphia Union.
- Sebastien Le Toux plays his first game against the team he really made a name for himself with. Sure, he came up with the Seattle Sounders, but he was an all-star with the Union and was that team's first real totem.
- Saturday is the next installment of the Red Bulls-Union rivalry. Philadelphians hate New York for it being the center of the universe. New Yorkers think Philadelphians are mouth-breathing low lifes who throw up on small children, hurl batteries at players and make two hour trips through Jersey to
standsit in the 200 level and watch their team get beat. It's time to take it to the pitch.
- Or alternatively, if you're one of those people who believe a team can only have one rivalry, Saturday is the next installment of the Red Bulls-Union "rivalry" the league keeps shoving down our throats.
- The Union are on a bit of a hot streak, 4-1-0 in their last five and playing a whole lot better since Piotr Nowak left. The Red Bulls aren't playing nearly as well since their 3-2 win in PPL Park. The Union have never won away against the Red Bulls. Could this be the time the Union come home with a victory?
But let's not forget the biggest, and probably most important, story line: If the Red Bulls win and Sporting Kansas City loses against the New England Revolution, the Red Bulls take sole control of the east. Their ascent could be aided by a D.C. United loss against the Columbus Crew. A United loss is always nice, but this one would set them back even more in the race for the top of the East.
It's a big ask, especially for the Revs, who are 1-2-2 in their last five and got stomped 3-0 in their early season match-up against Sporting (who, at the time, looked like clear Supporters Shield contenders), but if they can hold the Sporks off, and Columbus, who's also in questionable form, can beat D.C., Hans Backe's boys will be sitting pretty just before the All-Star break.