In a short amount of time the Red Bulls will be off to the mid-west to face Sporting Kansas City in the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final, it will be a big moment for this club as they will find a way to earn their first Cup in franchize history.
But there is a bit of something in the way before they fly for this mid-week tussle and that is a big match against nearby rivals in the Philadelphia Union as they have had a terrible season from the start and haven’t climbed out of the hole they du themselves into.
If DC United wasn’t worse than the Union they would be the cellar dwellers of the east, but still with MLS being a very competitive league and any side that still has a chance for a win will get it.
“It’s a difficult game in terms of playing against a rival, playing against a desperate team and I think we have played against teams that are desperate for points and need them now.” said Jesse Marsch, “We will rotate some players so it will be a test for us to see how clear we can be with rotating the guys.”
The only time Chris Pontius converted a goal past the Red Bulls was during the Penalty kick shootout at Red Bull Arena during the US Open Cup 5th round and he converted. At this moment he hasn’t scored all season.
“Well Pontius in general has cost us fits either in DC or in Philly, so we don’t underestimate him. Philly is always been a big challenge for us and always up for the game.” said Marsch, “The proximity, the rivalry nature of this game which means we will always get a good version of them which always makes this fun and be up for a big day.”
But the one player who has been very dangerous putting the ball into the back of the net for the Union has been C.J. Sapong and he is no stranger to being a pain in the backside to the defenders and to the keeper.
“When the ball goes wide he’s strong, athletic and fast so in transition he can be very effective, if you get caught wrestling with him too much, then you set yourself up to being manhandled.” said Marsch, “So our guys need to be aware to avoid getting into wrestling matches with him and when the ball does get wide just don’t allow him to get free headers.”
As always they have a world class keeper in Jamaican International Andre Blake and facing him has always been a tough task since he took over the starting keeper job full time. What can they do to continue to break him down and converting goals.
“We always emphasis on shooting low and we have great keepers as well with Luis (Robles), Ryan (Mear) & even (Evan) Louro and a couple guys in the USL.” said Derrick Etienne Jr., “We always play against quality goalkeepers so we respect him, but we need to put the ball on frame, low and get them in.”
Updating on injured players. Daniel Royer is ready to go and will be in the game day roster, also Ghanian Center Back Gideon Baah has been cleared to play and officially loaned out to the USL Red Bulls 2 side for the remainder of the season.
But now is the time for the Red Bulls to go out and get the full three points and try to bring that confidence with them to Kansas City and face Sporting for that US Open Cup trophy.