The last time the New York and the Philadelphia Union faced off could best be described as a forgettable one for the Red Bulls, as they suffered a 3-0 loss on the road at PPL Park.
No matter the outcome, whether good or bad, the team doesn’t focus too much on the previous match. That much was evident last week after the club took a temporary hold on first place following a 3-2 win over Sporting KC, and repeated on the opposite side of the spectrum following this past weekend’s road loss to the Columbus Crew. The focus is always placed on the next team, the next chance for a win, and the next opportunity to snag three points in the Eastern Conference.
But at this stage in the season, especially ahead of the third and final regular season match against an opponent, there’s plenty of video tape to roll through. Even if it brings back a few bad memories.
“Just remember it was a tough game,” midfielder Eric Alexander said, looking back on the June 23rd match. “I think we got a red in within 30 minutes and 60 minutes playing down a man is a long time. You know I thought we still had some good moments in that game and we were pushing at the end to get a goal back and they netted a couple more so it was just a tough game.”
The Union took an early 1-0 lead in that match following a Connor Casey goal in the seventh minute. New York entered the half down only a goal, but also down a man after Lloyd Sam was shown a controversial red card following a challenge on Philly’s Danny Cruz in the 30th minute. Casey would later tag on another goal in the 64th minute, before Antoine Hoppenot closed out the scoring in the 88th.
Given the circumstances of the previous match, combined with an opportunity to play in front of the Red Bull Arena home crowd, may be all the club needs to come into Saturday’s match firing off on all cylinders.
“It’s definitely a high intensity game, it definitely feels like a rivalry,” Alexander said. “So close and we’re both pretty high in the standings right now so were both looking to get some valuable points towards the end of the season so it’s definitely going to be a tough game, they’re a tough team and it’s always going to be a battle against them.”
‘Rivalry’ is a word often thrown around when the Red Bulls and Union face off against one another, but maybe it’s not the most accurate. Not yet, at least. After all, the history between New York and Philly can only date back to the Union’s inception ahead of the 2010 season. That’s certainly nowhere near the history that exists against teams like New England and D.C., even if New York maintains an all-time record of 6-3-0 against Philly. Maybe head coach Mike Petke said it best following Thursday’s training session.
“To me, as a coach now, every team is a rival,” Petke said. “I hate every team equally. Of course maybe Boston and Philly, maybe a smidgen more, but rivalry to me is about when I’m a player. As a coach, every team is trying to take three points from us, so I hate them all.”
New York and Philly kick off Saturday at 8 PM from Red Bull Arena. Get tickets now at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.