The Red Bulls were shut out for the first time this season against FC Dallas last week, but have many positives to take home from last week going into their match with the Philadelphia Union.
The defense, for one, has remained one of the consistent strong points for Jesse Marsch's squad despite it being a concern at the start of the season. The Red Bulls are tied for first in the league in terms of goals against, with 9 goals concede so far.
Most notably, they managed to shut out what was the league's most potent offense at the time (Dallas, with 17 goals). Barring one situation in which Felipe Martins was forced to make a goal line clearance, the Red Bulls effectively limited the creativity of Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, playing Dallas to a defensive stalemate.
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The Philadelphia Union, on the other hand, happen to have the league's most porous defense. Having conceded 21 goals in 12 games, the Union have only 9 points and currently sit in 18th place in the Supporters' Shield standings.
Further complicating the Union's defensive situation is the suspension of Maurice Edu due to yellow card accumulation. The captain might not be the only defensive stalwart missing Sunday's game either, with starter Ray Gaddis picking up an ankle injury last week. While the defender is listed as doubtful, he was unable to finish the match against D.C. United, which could break his impressive 54-game starting streak.
While this might normally be a bad omen for the visitors, the Union are no stranger to injuries. They're also coming off of their second win of the season. Defeating Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United in stoppage time last week, Philly are riding an emotional high and are looking to capitalize on it.
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Interestingly enough, the Red Bulls and the Union both employ the 4-2-3-1. While the Red Bulls prefer playing through the middle, Philly prefers to utilize their width. Furthermore, the Union opt to hit on the counter rather than play a possession-based game like New York. This could cause a headache for Jesse Marsch, as his high pressure system often leaves the back line exposed, with spaces opening up behind the overlapping full backs.
Who To Watch
RBNY: Felipe. The Red Bulls, although dominant in possession, have failed to score more than two goals in a single match this season. A lot of this is due to the fact that the midfield trio has struggled with finding the final ball, instead relying on the creativity of Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips in the attacking third. Felipe will be key in providing that creative spark against a Philly team that might be packed into its own half for the majority of the game.
Philly: Andrew Wenger. Wenger has had a disappointing season so far and just seems out of sorts. After watching his replacement score a stoppage time winner against D.C., he has to feel that the pressure is on.
- The Red Bulls are undefeated at Red Bull Arena against the Union.
- Philadelphia has failed to win their last 8 road matches in MLS.
- The Red Bulls are two points behind the New England Revolution and four behind D.C. United. A win would put them in a great position, as the Revs have played two more games than New York and D.C. has played one more.