What to Watch for When the Red Bulls Face the Philadelphia Union (Sunday, 5:00 PM, ESPN)

The lay off, standings, MLS goal scoring race, and more in this week's What to Watch For

The Red Bulls return to regular season action Sunday at 5 PM when they take on the Philadelphia Union on ESPN. The meeting at PPL Park marks the second time this season the two sides face off, with the Red Bulls claiming the first matchup on Mar. 30. Not only did the win help improve New York's all-time record against Philly, but it also marked the club's first win of the season.

If you're not making the trip Sunday, then join us at Hoboken's Pier A for an outdoor viewing party. More event info is available on our Facebook page.

Rest or Rust? How will the Red Bulls perform after a three-week lay off from regular season play?

The Red Bulls had hoped to head into the break with a nine game unbeaten streak, but unfortunately didn't get the result they desired after a 2-1 loss to the Whitecaps on June 1. Over the break, head coach Mike Petke kept his club in shape after a week of rest, focused on the second half of the season, and readied them to jump back into the action Sunday against Philly. Rest is important around the midway point of the season, but so is staying game-ready. Petke made sure his players had a nice balance of R&R and training, the latter of which was only further improved upon thanks to the new facilities in Hanover. This is an important match as far as the Eastern Conference goes, considering the Union could end up locked in a 25-point tie with the Red Bulls in the standings. There's no question that New York will enter this one ready to prevent that from happening.

Eye on the Standings

Heading into Sunday’s match the Red Bulls sit in 2nd place in the East, three points ahead of Philadelphia with a total of 25. The goal differential between the two teams is separated by one goal, as New York comes into the match with 23 goals on the season and Philadelphia has 22. Sunday’s showdown will not be a brotherly love affair, with each team fighting to stay atop the conference. Expect another physical game between the clubs.   

Head to Head All-Time

The Red Bulls have dominated the regular season matchups against the Union since Philly’s 2010 inception. New York has posted a 6-2-0 all-time record against the club, scoring 14 and allowing seven, and has been flawless at Red Bull Arena thanks to a 4-0-0 record. Of course, this one takes place at PPL Park, a venue where New York remains 2-2-0 with seven goals scored and five allowed. The last meeting between the two clubs marked the Red Bulls first home win of the 2013 season, with a 2-1 victory on March 30th.

McInerney vs. Henry

Two of the top MLS goal scorers will be featured in Sunday’s showdown. Union striker Jack McInerney currently holds the MLS goal-scoring lead with 10 goals and will obviously be looking to add to that total as often as possible. Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry comes into the match sitting in 5th place in the MLS scoring race with six goals, and will look to pad his total as well. That doesn't mean this match will just be focused on the two strikers, as Henry and McInerney could potentially take on more of a distribution role and find the open options. McInerney was held scoreless in the Mar. 30 meeting, while Henry picked up his first goal of the season.