In case you’ve been under a Sean Nealis-sized rock the last few weeks, the Philadelphia Union are really good. Ahead of their matchup with the New York Red Bulls tonight, we asked Joe Lister of SB Nation sibling site Brotherly Game a few questions to get an insider account of the confident Philly team coming to Harrison.
1. The Union are obviously the talk of the league over the last few weeks with their prolific scoring putting them back into Supporters Shield contention. What exactly has been behind this incredible run of form?
Honestly, this team’s got that dawg in them. When the Union smells blood in the water, they got really good at killing off other teams. One goal is usually leading to another for them, and team are honestly just rolling over at this point. Admittedly, Atlanta didn’t do this on Wednesday, but that also gave Philly a chance to show that they can still win a tough fight.
The offense is clicking, the defense is doing what’s necessary. Having three attacking players with more than ten goals on the year is massive. On top of that, Cory Burke, who has been one of Union fans’ least favorites, is in the best form of his MLS career. It’s been incredible to watch, I don’t think that I see it slowing down soon.
2. It’s been a strange summer since the last time these two teams faced each other in May. Has anything changed about the Union? Any new squad regulars? Any new wrinkles to their tactics?
Olivier Mbaizo has regained the starting role in the right fullback position, and Jim Curtin is playing his kids more, but that’s about it. There isn’t much question as to who starts each match (other than Jack McGlynn vs. Leon Flach on the left no. 8, but Jim seems to prefer Flach most of the time.) Philadelphia is a bit happier to hold possession, but they are still that pressing monster that they were at the beginning of the year. The big difference is that the team-wide chemistry is incredible
3. Where might be a weakness the Union have where the Red Bulls could actually find an advantage on Saturday? Will the Union have any potential rotation issues after playing midweek?
I don’t think there will be a ton of rotation. Mikael Uhre may sit for Cory Burke in the first half; Jack McGlynn may start for Leon Flach, but that should be all. If the Union have any real weaknesses, it will come with putting a sub-100% lineup on the field. All the same, the team has some really good depth right now, and it’s going to be tough for Red Bull nonetheless.
No notable absences to note. I have a 3-1 win for Philly here. Blake; Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Harriel; Martinez; Flach, Bedoya; Gazdag; Carranza, Burke