The Red Bulls will be pretty close to home on Saturday night when they take on the Philadelphia Union at TALEN Energy Stadium. In the summer of 2016, the Union proved to be one of the Red Bulls' most frustrating foes - knocking them out of the US Open Cup via comeback, and forcing a 2-2 draw in league play that kicked off RBNY's infamous habit of dropping two-goal leads. Even later in the year, when the Union's form was in sharp decline, the team put up a fight at Red Bull Arena in what was ultimately a 3-2 RBNY win.
In 2017, the Union, having gone winless through their first eight games, will be looking at the Red Bulls as the opponent against whom a lamentable streak might finally be snapped. Philadelphia is on a 16-game winless run (15 MLS, 1 MLS Cup playoffs). But those struggles are clearly not due to a lack of talent.
Alejandro Bedoya, Andre Blake, Chris Pontius (the Red Bull slayer), Roland Alberg, Keegan Rosenberry and C.J. Sapong can all do serious damage to the Red Bulls if they aren't on top of their game.
With several key players having either rested or been given cameos in the Wednesday night loss to Sporting KC, RBNY should be fielding a substantially fresher lineup that one would expect of a team that played only three days ago. Short of yet another major injury, there should be no excuses for the Red Bulls this time.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI at Philadelphia Union:
Michael Murillo - After Murillo put up a decent performance against Sporting KC, Marsch may kick the tires on the Panamanian defender as a stand-in centerback.
Tyler Adams - Sean Davis didn't exactly have the ideal cast around him on Wednesday, but his average performance will likely force him back on the bench in favor of AmeriKante.
Mike Grella - Assuming Grella hasn't suffered another setback, it seems like Grella will be ready for action come Saturday.
Bench: Ryan Meara, Sal Zizzo, Damien Perrinelle, Sean Davis, Fredrik Gulbrandsen, Derrick Etienne Jr., Alex Muyl
This is the kind of game that a true contender wins, regardless of whether it's on the road. When a team is struggling, a great team takes advantage of those struggles and gets the win - while a mediocre team either loses or gets shut out. If the Red Bulls really are truly focused and firing on all cylinders, (and assuming Jesse Marsch plays something closer to his A-team this time) the Red Bulls should leave Chester with the win.
What do you think?