Mike Petke was run out of Harrison as the New York Red Bulls dismantled Real Salt Lake 4-0. A first half full of chances but void of goals was met with an onslaught in the second half thanks to great team play and more fruitful substitutions.
The Red Bulls always looked to score at least one goal, especially with how many chances they created in the first half. Royer had two golden chances himself to put the game away early, but RSL legend Nick Rimando made some great saves.
Michael Murillo took the game into his hands in the second half, breaking the scoreless deadlock by forcing an own goal in the 58th minute. He also scored a goal of his own in the 64th minute, earning himself a well deserved spot in the MLS team of the week.
Kaku was also featured in the team of the week as he created six chances and tallied an assist in his most impressive performance of the season. He was back to his old playmaking ways and really put on quite the show as the number 10.
With Sean Davis quietly having another strong match and Amro Tarek and Kemar Lawrence shutting it down defensively, the 4-0 win was all but deserved for Chris Armas and his men. Even blossoming youngster Omir Fernandez got in on the fun, scoring a goal for the second straight week after coming off the bench.
The team now needs to bring that same energy to Pennsylvania as they take on one of the hottest teams in MLS. The Philadelphia Union are tied with the second most points in the whole league and are out to make a statement this season.
The Union were not so hot out of the gate, losing two of their first three matches. Since then, they have lost just two matches and have scored a staggering 28 goals on the year so far. A blend of youth, veteran leadership, and strong DP signings have really molded this team into the force they are this season.
Ligue 2 forward Jamairo Monteiro has been the points leader for the team thus far, registering three goals and three assists on the season. Often playing as the left central midfielder in the Union’s typical 4312 formation, Monteiro has transformed the usual static midfield into a dangerous threat that is filled with talent.
Enforcer Haris Medunjanin is the general in midfield, dictating tempo and setting up his team on both sides of the ball. His ball movement and distribution makes the center of the pitch a crucial area for the Union, and is a big target for the Red Bulls to try and disrupt.
With goal contributions from Sergio Santos and assists galore from both Ilsinho and Fabrice Picault, this Union team is miles better than any team they have fielded in the past few seasons. This makes the prospect of the Red Bulls visiting all that much more daunting for a team that has historically struggled in Chester.
The Red Bulls did beat the Union last season in October 1-0 at Talen Energy Stadium in MLS play, but a 2-1 loss in the 5th round of the US Open Cup was a real blow for the team. The Union ended up making it all the way to the final, where they were eventually manhandled by the Houston Dynamo 3-0 in a very lopsided match.
Though this is just a midseason MLS match, the feeling going into it is much more than that. Both teams are playing incredibly well after both starting quite slow. Two of the strongest offensive teams facing off in what surely is the match of the week is sure to bring plenty of quality football.
The Union and Red Bulls are not exactly arch rivals, but there is always a different feel between the two teams. Rivals or not, though, this is set to be one of the toughest tests the Red Bulls have had this season. Armas’ substitution masterclass could be the difference in this one, so look for some key second half changes if things are not going the Red Bulls’ way.