Another fantastic showing from the New York Red Bulls (with a bit of help from VAR) has the team on a massive four game win streak. They have scored 12 goals during their run and look to be clicking on all conceivable levels in attack. They now head home to take on the Philadelphia Union in a tough Eastern Conference matchup.
The Union are having a much better start to the year compared to last season. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but at least it did not take them until May 6th to get their first win. Coincidently, their first win last season came against the Red Bulls, with CJ Sapong scoring a second half hat trick. This year, the team is not relying to heavily on Sapong, and it seems to be working as of late.
The last six goals the Union have scored have all been by different players. From the backline to the attack, every player is getting involved and making a difference. This is especially true for Brazilian midfielder Ilsinho. His command of the midfield led to a goal and assist for himself against Real Salt Lake last match, which ended in a 4-1 victory for the Union.
This does not hide the fact that the Union have the lowest goal tally of the entire Eastern Conference this season, scoring just 12 goals thus far. Their poor run from mid March to late April really hindered the team, scoring just once in five matches.
Looking at the team’s major losses, it seems the Union struggle to beat teams who have high tempo offense and punish teams who sit back and park the preverbal bus. This is evident in their 3-0 loss to Toronto FC, but also in their 4-1 win against Salt Lake.
This is just the news the Red Bulls need to hear. It is well known that Marsch plays a high energy, high pressing system that forces slow moving teams to make mistakes. This was most evident in the 4-0 destruction of NYCFC, as the City defenders were under siege constantly, causing misplayed passes and an inability to think on the ball.
Bradley Wright-Phillips has been praised a lot recently for his dictation in the pressing game. His general-like attitude on the field allows him to point to areas where his teammates should be while still maintaining his own pressure. BWP is constantly praised for his goal scoring, but the work he does off the ball is just as vital to this teams success.
Another very recent key to the teams success has been Ryan Meara. His ability to step in for captain Luis Robles and record six huge saves on the road to a 3-1 victory at Atlanta United exemplified the team overall this season. Their willingness to adapt and overcome the tough times in matches, especially one as tough as seeing Robles on the sidelines.
The Red Bulls have announced that Robles is still recovering and is trending towards Meara starting against the Union as well. The other exciting news that came out this week was the status of Kemar Lawrence’s injury. After being stretchered off the field in Atlanta, Taxi has recovered fully and is set to start against Philly. This is big news ahead of the World Cup in which the Red Bulls will lose two key defenders to the Panama national team.
Though the Union have been on a two match win streak, the victories came against some pretty poor teams. Good form is nothing to mess around with, though, so starting the game on the front foot will put the Red Bulls in the right spot early on. The team has not sat back against the opposition yet this season, and now is certainly not the game to start.
It will be good to get back to Red Bull Arena in front of the fans and continue to give them the offensive explosion that has been surging through this team. Kaku is not looking like he will slow down any time soon, and his connection with BWP always gets a rise out of the crowd. The Union will have quite a tough time stopping these two players, and with the rest of the Red Bulls in top form, nothing short of a win would be acceptable for Marsch’s team.