It’s a key match for a pair of Eastern Conference teams with real aspirations at midweek as the New York Red Bulls play host to Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls have opened defense of the Supporters’ Shield winless in their first six matches, dropping a 1-0 decision at D.C. United last weekend. Union have reached three consecutive draws, their latest a last-gasp 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire at PPL Park last Saturday.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Jorge Gonzalez
MLS Career: 183 games; FC/gm: 26.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 52; pens: 65
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Armando … PHI: Fabinho
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Red Bulls 6 wins, 14 goals … Union 3 wins, 10 goals … Ties 1
AT NEW YORK (5 meetings): Red Bulls 4 wins, 7 goals … Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 7/16: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m. ET; 9/13: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 3 p.m. ET
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/30: NY 2, PHI 1 (McCarty 55; Henry 81 – Casey 63)
6/23: PHI 3, NY 0 (Casey 7, 64; Hoppenot 88)
8/17: NY 0, PHI 0
• When the teams played to a scoreless draw at Red Bull Arena, it was the first point ever taken in Harrison by Union. The Red Bulls are 4-0-1 in home games vs. Philadelphia, having outscored Union 7-2, and also won a U.S. Open Cup game there in 2010.
• The Red Bulls had won their last two visits to Chester before Union took a 3-0 victory there last June 23.
• Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. NY: P5 W1 L3 D1 … Mike Petke vs. PHI: P3 W1 L1 D1
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls saw their season-opening winless streak extended to six games, their run of four consecutive draws ended in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium. The Red Bulls sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 4 points from 6 matches on the season.
• The game's lone goal came in just the fourth minute. A Fabian Espindola corner kick found center back Bobby Boswell at the near side of the box, and he played a glancing header to the far post where Davy Arnaud was there to finish, his diving header eluding the grasp of New York 'keeper Luis Robles.
• United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra made four saves in recording a second consecutive clean sheet, also saved when the woodwork kept out Peguy Luyindula's first-time blast in the 73rd minute.
• Red Bulls boss Mike Petke made three changes to the team that reached a 2-2 result with the Montréal Impact at Olympic Stadium. Jamison Olave came into the back four for Armando, Dax McCarty started in midfield for Bobby Convey, and Thierry Henry came in up top in place of Bradley Wright-Phillips.
• NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller (Connor Lade 84) - Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Ruben Bover 90), Jonny Steele (Bradley Wright-Phillips 66) - Peguy Luyindula, Thierry Henry.
• The Red Bulls have opened the season winless in their first six matches. It’s the third-worst start by a Supporters’ Shield holder after posting the league’s best record the year before; the record is the LA Galaxy’s 0-4-4 start in 2003.
• “Now, it’s starting to creep in a little bit,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. “It’s still far from pushing the panic button, far from anything like that. But now it’s getting to the point – especially after a game like this, a game in Chicago, a second half with Chivas [USA], where we just couldn’t finish them off – that [we're] going, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ But overall, we’re a good team and we have good players and we showed that.”
• The Red Bulls were shut out for the first time this season at D.C. United, after scoring six goals in their first five games. The Red Bulls were last shut out in a scoreless draw vs. Philadelphia last Aug. 17 (14 games).
• “It’s a minor travesty that the result we had to show for it was a loss,” said midfielder Dax McCarty. “Sometimes the soccer gods are smiling on you and you get lucky bounces here and there, and sometimes they aren’t. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. The score should’ve been, realistically, 4- or 5-1 and that’s being generous."
• Said Thierry Henry: “I’m very critical usually, but if we carry on playing like we played in the second half, hopefully we can get on a good run because there’s nothing to say about how we played. After the [first] 30 minutes, I thought we passed the ball well, we created chances, sometimes we were a bit unlucky, sometimes we weren’t unlucky. But we had the ball and I don’t think we deserved to lose.”
• Henry was partnered with Peguy Luyindula in attack, as Bradley Wright-Phillips came off the substitutes’ bench for the second time in the last three games.
• “If I have 11 guys who are my best players and are playing in practice and showing me, I’m going to find a spot to put them in. Doesn’t matter if they’re not naturally a left midfielder or right midfielder or forward,” Petke said. “Going into this game, I felt that Peguy and Thierry, Dax and Eric down the middle were my best players going into that game, and that’s why I fit them in like that.”
• While Henry returned to the lineup for his fourth start in six matches, the Red Bulls were again missing Tim Cahill, who missed a second consecutive match through injury.
• “It was good to have Henry back, obviously. He’s our leader. He’s the guy with the most talent on the team,” Petke said. “And it’s going to be good to have Tim back; he’s a hard worker. When Tim gets back—we’re still unsure if it will be Wednesday—but with Tim coming back, it’s even more experience and fresher legs.”
• The Red Bulls-Union match is the first midweek game of the MLS season, the first time this year teams will play league contests on short rest.
• “It’s about getting their bodies back recovered before Wednesday. It’s going to be a tough game Wednesday, but fortunately we’re at home,” Petke said. “We’re getting back [Saturday] so we can get them rest tomorrow and then it’s about maintaining their bodies – a lot of light stuff for the next few days.”
Philadelphia Union played to their third consecutive draw, hitting for a late equalizer for a 2-2 tie with Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Union are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 6 games.
• RSL took the lead after just six minutes, after Union center back Austin Berry took down Olmes Garcia at the edge of the penalty area and referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath stopped Alvaro Saborío's penalty kick -- but Luke Mulholland beat everyone to the rebound and slotted home inside the left post.
• Union pulled level 10 minutes after the second-half restart when Andrew Wenger opened his Union scoring account, racing on to a perfect, chipped long ball over the top from Vincent Nogueira, then controlling it with his chest before beating RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
• But RSL nosed back in front in the 85th minute. After the Union lines weren't completely cleared from a corner, hard work by Sebastian Velasquez got the ball to Javier Morales, and his brilliant cut-back found Kyle Beckerman to pound a shot home from the heart of the area.
• Yet Union had one final answer on the stroke of full-time, when Maurice Edu snapped home a header from a Cristián Maidana corner kick to provide the equalizing goal.
• Union manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that played to a 2-2 with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Sheanon Williams and Austin Berry came into the back four for Aaron Wheeler and Fabinho, and Andrew Wenger started up top in place of Conor Casey.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry, Raymon Gaddis - Maurice Edu, Brian Carroll (Cristian Maidana 76) - Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 74), Vincent Nogueira, Leo Fernandes - Andrew Wenger (Antoine Hoppenot 86).
• Union have drawn three consecutive games for the first time in club history, as their winless run was stretched to four matches.
• “I think we’ve shown that we are capable of being a good team in this league. We’ve shown we can play. We can beat the best teams. We’ve also shown that we have to be able to play 90 minutes,” said Union midfielde Maurice Edu. “We had a lapse today where we dropped off a little bit and they got a goal. We showed a lot of heart and character to get back in the game and now we’ve got to go that extra step. We’ve put ourselves in good positions to win games and now we’ve got to go out and actually do it.”
• Andrew Wenger scored on his Union debut Saturday, after he was acquired in a trade with Montréal the week before. Wenger was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of Duke Univ.
• “You score a goal on your debut in front of your new home crowd and I think that’s fantastic. He shows some good qualities of how hard he works, that he can hold the ball up, get in the box and make a good run,” said Hackworth. “That ball from Nogueira was sublime to give it to Andrew. It was a great run by Andrew to finish, but there was some good build up on that play. … He has a new lease. I think he knows that we believe in him. It’s going to be really important for him to be here and play the way he just did.”
• Edu’s goal marked the first time in his MLS career he had scored in consecutive games. Edu scored April 5 vs. Chicago, his first MLS goal since 2008.
• Austin Berry returned to central defense for the first time after a three-match absence due to injury, replacing Aaron Wheeler. Berry was forced out of the March 15 game vs. New England before the hour mark.
• “It was tough. Austin is a good player and a great kid. I know that he is going to learn from this experience,” said Hackworth. “He’s probably going to take it hard, but he can look back on a couple of plays and know he could do better.”
• For a second consecutive week, Zac MacMath recorded a penalty kick save – the first two in his MLS career. Overall, 5 of 8 penalty kicks against him have been scored; there was a miss by D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario on Aug. 19, 2012 (hit crossbar).
• “Zac was really good, he kept us in the game a lot. It’s really unfortunate that our guys don’t react better on that penalty kick,” said Hackworth. “Zac was pretty good. He was good off his line, he cleared the balls and made some really good saves. I’m a little disappointed that he had to make that many.”