PBPP: Union Need to Get Momentum Back vs. New York

Philadelphia face tough early season test Saturday at PPL Park

While the Lamar Hunt U.S.
Open Cup match on Wednesday doesn’t count in the MLS standings, from a team
standpoint, it’s still the Union’s second straight loss, following two consecutive
wins. 

Philadelphia were certainly
playing to win vs. DC United, as evidenced by their starting
lineup. Nine of the 11 who started
vs. the Galaxy got the starting assignment on Wednesday. Only Stefani Miglioranzi and Danny
Mwanga were out of the first 11.

No time to reflect or worry
about the DC game, as the New York game approaches. This is a big statement game for the Union. A win or a draw should keep them with
at least a share of first place in the Eastern Conference. (New England – also with six points 
 is hosting Real Salt Lake on Saturday).

Before the season started
many observers (myself included) picked the Red Bulls to finish first in the East. I might add, this was before
there was even a rumor about Dwayne De Rosario. The Red Bulls already had Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez,
plus a good supporting cast that included defender Tim Ream, midfielder Joel
Lindpere, and wide midfielder Dane Richards. The club also helped themselves with the addition of
foreign talent like Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli.

Clearly the addition of DeRo
makes a strong club that much stronger. Just like one week ago when the Union had to worry about three stars in
LA (Beckham, Donovan, Angel), they must account for a different trio of impact players 
on Saturday.

The two teams have met three times, with identical 2-1
scores in each. The home side won
each league game, while the Red Bulls beat Philadelphia in a 2010 Lamar Hunt
U.S. Open Cup qualifier, played at Red Bull Arena.

A few things to look for on Saturday:

Is Justin Mapp effective in his return from a hamstring injury?

Manager Peter Nowak declared Mapp "ready to go" on Thursday, but will he be rusty after sitting out the last two league games? The Union need Mapp to be at least as impactful as Dane Richards, who will play opposite the Union winger.

Does Sebastien Le Toux get on
the scoresheet?  

He said that his
ankle is fine, but he is still without a goal after three games here in 2011.  The Union feed off of Seba’s energy and
his goals, so if he can get things going, the Union will benefit greatly on
Saturday.

Can the Union contain Dwayne
De Rosario, who has now had a full week of practice to acclimate himself with
his new team?

DeRo made an immediate impact after coming on in his first game with NY, assisting on the club's lone goal vs. Houston. With a full 90 minutes, it could be a
busy day in the central midfield area for the Union.

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Related:

Nowak: Controversial USOC Defeat Won't Faze Us

WATCH: Red Bulls Preview