The Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union face off for the second of what will now be four times this season - the teams have recently learned they have a U.S. Open Cup match on June 28.
Brotherly Game managing editor Eugene Rupinski was kind enough to stop by Once A Metro HQ and tell us what we need to know for this Eastern Conference re-match.
Once A Metro: Usually there is so much animosity between New York and Philly teams, but when it comes to the Red Bulls and the Union there just doesn't seem to be that unconditional disdain for each other. Do the Union consider the Red Bulls to be a rival?
Eugene R., Brotherly Game: It all depends on who you ask and what you define as a rival. Personally I think there's a rivalry there, but it's not a very intense rivalry like Red Bulls have with New York City FC or D.C. United. The proximity of the teams and the multiple games a year against one another to me say it's a rivalry, but you're right - the absolute hatred for one another isn't there between the Union and Red Bulls. Much like the Red Bulls, the Union's big rivals are D.C. United and New York City FC. There have been some real heated matches between the Union and United, however the fan bases have historically gotten along rather well. With NYCFC, it's kind of the opposite - there hasn't been much of an on-field rivalry, but our fans hate their fans and they hate us. You guys are somewhere in between - we don't like you, but we don't hate your damn guts either.
OaM: What kind of tactics are the Union currently using, and what kind of strategy would be effective against them?
Eugene R., Brotherly Game: The Union play a 4-2-3-1, however the two central defensive midfielders tend to press up-field and get into the offense more than you'd expect from a traditional 4-2-3-1. The Union like to hit teams on the counterattack and are very opportunistic. If you're looking to beat the Union, look to pressure the midfield into making poor decisions and make the most of your set pieces. The Union lost their last MLS match against NYCFC off two poorly defended corner kicks, and conceded a ton of corners against the Harrisburg City Islanders in the U.S. Open Cup match this past Wednesday. If they allow the Red Bulls these opportunities, it could be a long day for the Union.
Once A Metro: So, your one-year anniversary with Alejandro Bedoya is coming up. How would you describe the relationship status - Is Bedoya playing up to expectations or disappointing?
Eugene R., Brotherly Game: A bit of both, although lately it's been more positive than negative. Up until a few weeks ago, Bedoya was unhappy with being played out of position and the fans were unhappy with him for his lack of production. Since moving back to the 8, Bedoya's seemed much happier, and the Union fans are in turn happier as his contributions to the offense have increased greatly. I think overall it's a wash, and we're hopeful the positive trend in his play continues.
Predicted XI: Andre Blake; Fabinho, Oguchi Onyewu, Josh Yaro, Ray Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones; Fafa Picault, Ilsinho, Chris Pontius; CJ Sapong
Predicted Score: I don't think the break or the mid-week U.S. Open Cup fixture did either team any good, so I'll say it'll be a 1-0 Union win.