After defeating Chelsea and Benfica in the ICC, the Red Bulls get the chance to avenge their Open Cup loss to the Philadelphia Union.
The last time the Red Bulls played an MLS match was almost two weeks ago. Traveling to the Citrus Bowl, the Red Bulls took on Kaka and Orlando City. Sacha Kljestan gave the Red Bulls an early lead with a 21st-minute laser. Receiving the ball completely unmarked outside of the box, Kljestan was able to turn and line up the perfect shot before firing home into the top corner.
About ten minutes later, the later the Red Bulls were the beneficiaries of some dubious refereeing, with Cyle Larin getting a red card for a seemingly innocuous challenge on Dax McCarty. Despite the protests, the red card stood as Larin had shown his studs.
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For the rest of the game, Jesse Marsch and his side were content to soak up the pressure, allowing Orlando City to pour on the pressure. Ultimately, the Lions proved to be toothless. With the game more or less over, Mike Grella added a wonderful solo goal to kill the game off in stoppage time. The Glen Cove native ran skipped past two defenders before blasting a shot towards Tally Hall's far post.
The Red Bulls have some good momentum going forward into the match, currently riding a two-game win streak in MLS. Friendly wins against Chelsea and Benfica don't hurt either.
That being said, the Union have proven to be a tricky opponent this season. The Red Bulls have been unable to defeat them in 2015. First in MLS, the Union defeated the Red Bulls 2-0, which sent them into a four game skid. Nearly two months later, the Union were at it again, knocking the Red Bulls out of the Open Cup on penalties, despite having been down a man the majority of the game.
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The Union are also bringing in some reinforcements. Just this week, they announced the signing of central midfielder, Tranquillo Barnetta. The Swiss international has an impressive pedigree, having played in 3 World Cups, the Champion's League, and the Bundesliga. Although he most likely won't start (as he will be fresh off the plane from sorting out his visa in Switzerland), Barnetta could complicate things should he make his debut later on in the match.
The Union are currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, with the Red Bulls sitting in 3rd. Some erratic form has seen the Union lose their last two matches in MLS, but they have managed to rack up some impressive wins against Western Conference opponents.
Who To Watch
PHI: Jim Curtin. Last time the two teams played, Curtin thoroughly out-coached Jesse Marsch. Implementing the counterattacking plan that would ultimately send the Red Bulls on a 4-game spiral, Curtin made the right subs and effectively rendered the high pressure system useless. Will he stick with the same system?
RBNY: Mike Grella. With the Red Bulls closing in on winger Gonzalo Veron, Grella might be feeling that his position as a starter is in jeopardy. As Veron will be coming in on a Designated Player contract and is a natural left winger, maybe this will light a fire under Grella and lead to increased productivity from the player.