By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
It’s a big rivalry game for the Union as they take on the New York Red Bulls, and look to bounce back from a disheartening loss against Nashville SC.
July has been kind to the Red Bulls so far, securing their first away victory of the season against Orlando City SC. During that game, they managed to get two goals past the best defensive team in the league, and ended Orlando’s three-game winning streak up to that point.
The Union aren’t coming into this game on such a positive note, losing their inaugural matchup to Nashville SC to a goal from former Union striker CJ Sapong.
The Red Bulls are also coming into this game in quite an uncomfortable table position. They’re level on points with Columbus Crew and CF Montreal, only ahead on goal differential. Manager Gerhard Struber will be eager to get back to the comfort of Red Bull Arena, and will be looking to add momentum to his team’s push to get higher up in the table.
It won’t be an easy task against Jim Curtin’s men, though. They never let a loss or unsavory performance leave a bad taste in their mouths, couple that with the fact that the Red Bulls have failed to score against the Boys In Blue in their last three regular-season matches, and the Red Bulls will have their work cut out for them offensively.
However, the Union won’t exactly be coasting in this game. Their offensive efforts have been suffering lately, especially with finishing chances. The Union have a bad habit of taking too many extra touches once they get into an optimal scoring position, which almost always leads to a missed chance to net a goal. Even with their elite midfield diamond and striker pairings, the finishing needs to be more clinical, and the offense needs to be more assertive.
Predicted Lineup: Matt Freese, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Aurelien Collin, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Sergio Santos, Kacper Przybyłko
- The Union will be without goalie Andre Blake, leading goalscorer Cory Burke, and defender Alvas Powell due to the trio’s call-ups to the Jamaican national team. This will give young Homegrown goalie Freese a chance to show his stuff in front of the goal, and Olivier Mbaizo will perhaps get a rest day. It’s looking like Santos and Przybylko will be the striker pairing until Burke returns from international duty, and behind them, the trusted midfield diamond that has seen the Union through many a game.
Score Prediction: It’s painful to say, but this game is anything but a surefire win for the Union. Without Blake, there’s no telling how organized and efficient the back line will be. A weakened defense, meek offense, and an increasingly in-form Red Bulls team will unfortunately result in a 2-1 loss.