By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
Following a two-game winning streak, taking all six points from matches against Orlando City SC and Atlanta United, the Union have seen themselves make a huge jump into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll be travelling to northern New Jersey for the latest installment of their rivalry against the New York Red Bulls, who currently sit seven points out of playoff contention.
Two solid wins, along with Kacper Przybylko returning to offensive form with three goals across those two games, has provided plenty of momentum for Philadelphia going into this game. However, Jim Curtin pointed out that the Union need to always be looking ahead to the next game instead of relishing in their past two matches.
“That performance means nothing if we don’t follow up with another one against Red Bull,” Curtin said.
The Union have not lost to their northern rivals since September 2019, but by no means does that guarantee a cruising win in this upcoming game.
“These games are usually one play games,” Curtin said. “We bring out the best in each other. All games are important at this point and every point matters, but when it’s Red Bull, there’s a little something extra for both teams.
This match will be especially trying for the Union, seeing as they have a multitude of players out with injuries. Captain Alejandro Bedoya, who was absent from the Atlanta game due to a calf problem, will return, but Curtin will be looking to make the most out of the players that are available.
“As a coach, you have to look a couple days ahead and have a plan,” Curtin told media. “It’s not ideal, we’ll be missing about eight players in the most important games of the year.”
The biggest advantage in the Union’s recent performances has been the fact that they have been putting in solid team performances. Defense, midfield, and attack have all done their part to snag three points, and the cohesiveness between the players is their biggest strength right now. Against an admittedly weaker Red Bulls side, that could be the element that puts them all the way over the edge. The next step is to ramp up the goal count so they don’t skate by on one-goal leads anymore.
Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Sergio Santos, Kacper Przybyłko
- Although the midfield fared pretty well without him, Bedoya will almost certainly be back in the lineup. He commands not just the midfield, but provides leadership to the entire field. It’s the familiar case of Curtin knowing what words and sticking to it. With the unfortunately scarce depth in the striker department, fans could see Curtin making early substitutions with the young players, much like what happened against Atlanta.
Score Prediction: The Union’s win streak coupled with the fact that they seem to have genuinely found their footing again after a stretch of games where they weren’t playing like themselves could lead to a convincing win. With the momentum picking up, this game could see more than just Przybylko or Santos on the scoresheet. More players (including defenders) are involving themselves in the attack, meaning that there could be a variety of goalscorers to give them a comfortable lead over the Red Bulls. A result of 3-1 shouldn't be a problem for the Union.