What's at stake?
Though a berth in the next play-in round of the U.S. Open Cup awaits the winners, bragging rights between the fanbases probably means more than advancing in the tournament. Saturday afternoon had a crackling atmosphere, but it was the ruckus from the home supporters in the Empire Supporters Club that left singing the song of victory. Will the derisive chants of “Sons of Betsy” from the home end inspire the Philly faithful to turnout again in numbers like this past weekend?
After New York’s 2-1 win on Saturday, Philadelphia should come out firing on all cylinders. The Red Bulls should rest the majority of their starters in this game, per head coach Hans Backe’s postgame comments to that effect. If the Union put in their best 11, it would be an effort on their part to become the third expansion team in the tournament’s history to win the Open Cup. At 1-3, the Union need a winner to get back on the right track.
Saturday afternoon’s “Interstate-95” rivalry was played “Interstate-66” style—direct and right down the middle. Backe lamented the “endline to endline” action in New York’s 2-1 win. The Union looked dangerous repeatedly throughout the game and dominated the scoring opportunities in the first half. Against a less stacked New York side, the Union could easily get an early goal or two and run away with this result.
You should remember when ... the last game between these two was played what, 72 hours ago? Check out the video highlights HERE if you don’t know what happened.
Heroes & Villains
Backe vs. Nowak—There is no hatred to speak of between these two teams, but Backe’s decision to rest his starters is gifting the Union a chance to win. Philadelphia could have won Saturday’s contest if their finishing had been better. The Union are a good side and not a typical expansion team. With time, they should build cohesion and another addition to the midfield will help matters significantly. Despite New York winning this past weekend, the Union must be favorites in the cup game.
Orozco vs. Orozco—Other than a handball call that gave forward Juan Pablo Angel a goal from the penalty spot, Union defender Michael Orozco had a pretty good game. Just days later, the young defender returns to the scene of the place where his gaff cost the team a chance at points on the road. How he rebounds will help determine whether the Union can get their first ever win in the tournament.
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …”
All four of New York’s wins this season have come by one goal.
He said it
“I always put priority on cup games. I’ve been on six cup finals losing five; I have won one, so now with the Juventus game coming in, if we win in the cup, we would probably play nine games from today until June 5, and I don’t think this squad is able to cope with that.”—New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe on resting his starters for Tuesday night’s US Open Cup match.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.