On match day, when the New York Red Bulls take on the Philadelphia Union, there will be no brotherly love between us here at Once a Metro and our sister blog Brotherly Game. Before the nicities go out the window though, we sat down with Managing Editor Eugene Rupinski to take a look at the state of the Union.
OaM: The Union are currently in 9th place with mixed recent form. Given they made it to the semi-finals of the US Open Cup, is the team going to give up on MLS Playoffs for the Open Cup?
BG: I think the club is realistic about their chances of getting into the playoffs. The hole that was dug early in the season is huge, and it will take nothing short of a miracle to get out of it. That said, the U.S. Open Cup is much more attainable. The Union will host the Chicago Fire, and while they are going to go all out because they're having a terrible season too, they'll have to beat the Union in an Open Cup match at PPL Park.pen Cup is much more attainable. The Union will host the Chicago Fire, and while they are going to go all out because they're having a terrible season too, they'll have to beat the Union in an Open Cup match at PPL Park.
OaM: The Union recently traded away Sheanon Williams, the Union's leader in games played. What does this mean to the team and the fan base?
BG: From a fan's perspective, it sucks. There's no sugar-coating it, losing a guy that was here almost since the beginning (Shea joined the Union halfway through the inaugural 2010 season) sucks. A lot of folks are questioning the decision to trade away a full back when the club is so thin on defense.
That being said, it's just business. The reality of pro sports is that almost no one is a lifer at a club anymore. The Union felt like they had to move him to free up money to sign someone else. They also think they're relatively deep at full back with Fabinho and Ray Gaddis.
Perhaps the money from this went to acquiring Tranquillo Barnetta. Perhaps it will be used to bring in a legit center back to help shore up the defense. Who knows. The Union fans have to trust the process, and given the history of the club's transfers it's a big favor to ask.
OaM: Who is the Union's next goalkeeper and when will he get there?
BG: Haha well naturally as soon as Jaime Penedo was put on the block by the LA Galaxy, the kinda-joking-but-not-really joke was that the Union would move to get him. And who knows, that may actually happen. But I think the club has felt the wrath of the fans who are tired of the 'keeper-go-round and will stick with Andre Blake and/or Brian Sylvestre, at least for now.
Predicted Lineup for the Union:
Brian Sylvestre; Fabinho, Maurice Edu, Ethan White, Ray Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Zach Pfeffer; Eric Ayuk, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux; CJ Sapong
(Note from Eugene: If Barnetta is good to go, I'd give him the nod over Le Toux on the right wing.)
While the Union are without several key players, they've had the Red Bulls' number this season. 2-1 Union.