Red Bulls-Union Preview
Jim Curtin and the Philadelphia Union are "fighting" to get through a draining month and must now take on a high-energy New York Red Bulls team determined to find their weakness.
The Union have already played nine games this season and four times in May alone, with the month only two weeks old.
Philly's CONCACAF Champions League run has resulted in this punishing schedule, and they have so far only mustered a single MLS win.
Curtin knows his side cannot look for excuses, however, against a Red Bulls outfit who have responded to consecutive defeats by winning two in a row.
"We're going to have to put as fresh a group out there against Red Bull as possible, because we know what they're about, how they press, and they're in good form right now as well," Curtin said.
"There's no easy task, no time to feel bad for ourselves. We have to bounce back and try to find a way to get three points.
"We're fighting to get through this May, that's for sure."
Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber knows the Union "have many games in their brains and bodies" but is also wary of their threat.
"They have a clear identity to play successful football," he said. "I think, for us, it's very, very important we know the strength and we know also the weakness they have in the team.
"It's very, very important that we make the next step in our principles. I think the last two games show us in many times we are in the right way.
"The whole team, the whole roster, has made a very good job in our principles. Also the spirit in the team, the energy in the team is right now on a very good level.
"This is maybe very helpful on Saturday against a big team like the Philadelphia Union."
Philadelphia Union – Anthony Fontana
Curtin spoke of naming a fresh team, so might he turn to Fontana? The 21-year-old is yet to score this season, after getting six last year, but had two shots and created a chance off the bench in midweek.
New York Red Bulls – Fabio
Red Bulls number nine Fabio is still waiting on his first MLS goal but has already provided four assists for team-mates. New York will be keen to get him on the scoresheet quickly, though, and he has come close in recent matches, hitting the post against the Chicago Fire.
- The Union have won a club-best three straight meetings with the Red Bulls, including a 4-3 win in the 2019 playoffs and both meetings last season. Philadelphia had won just five of the previous 23 MLS meetings (D5 L13) dating back to October 2011.
- The Union got an 88th-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with New England on Wednesday, avoiding a first four-match home losing streak in MLS (incl. playoffs). Still, Philadelphia's four-match home run without a win (D1 L3) is their longest since going seven straight (D3 L4) across 2016 and 2017.
- The Red Bulls have recorded consecutive 2-0 wins, beating Chicago and Toronto. New York have not won three straight matches in over two years, since winning the final five matches of the 2018 regular season.
- Kacper Przybylko, who ended a 16-match goalscoring drought on Wednesday, has netted in each of his past two matches against the Red Bulls. The only Union player to score in three straight games against the Red Bulls was Sebastian Le Toux in 2014.
- Both Caden Clark (three goals, one assist) and Fabio (four assists) have contributed to four goals in the Red Bulls' first four matches. The last time a pair of Red Bulls team-mates each had been involved in at least four goals through four matches of a season was in 2012, with Thierry Henry (five goals, three assists) and Kenny Cooper (four goals).
Updated May 14, 2021