Scouting report: A breakdown of what to expect from the New York Red Bulls
After a two week break, league play resumes with a chance to catch the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Union are three points back, looking to draw even with a New York team that sits on 25 points and a 7-5-4 record. Philadelphia has a game in hand on its I-95 rival.
The Red Bulls are currently enjoying a five game winning streak against the Union which dates back to October 2011. That includes a 2-1 win on March 30, the first of three games between the sides this season. Philadelphia is 2-7-0 all-time against New York, with both wins coming at PPL Park, the site of Sunday's game.
New York Attack
Manager Mike Petke will be without veteran Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who serves a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
Look for a midfield that likely includes Dax McCarty and Tim Cahill, the latter of whom returns stateside after helping Australia qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Cahill played three international games during the break, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him starting in Chester on Sunday.
Striker Thierry Henry shouldn't need an introduction. He scored the game-winner in that 2-1 victory back in March. Henry leads his team with six goals this year, a slight dropoff from his production through 16 games last season. He'll likely partner with Fabian Espindola (3 goals) up top, leaving Peguy Luyindula, Andre Akpan, and Amando Moreno as bench options.
You'll probably see Eric Alexander and Jonny Steele at right midfield and left midfield, respectively. The pair aren't natural wingers, but they've done well enough to earn those starting jobs this season. New York's natural wide players are a bit younger, so that's why Lloyd Sam and Ruben Bover have mostly come off the bench for their appearances this season.
New York Defense
A red card suspension means Jamison Olave will miss Sunday's game.
It's a big blow for the Red Bulls, who lose a starting central defender and a guy who has scored four goals this season.
The easy move is to slide left back Heath Pearce into that CB slot next to Markus Holgersson. Roy Miller would then start at left back, with either Kosuke Kimura or Brandon Barklage playing right back.
There hasn't been any real formula to the Kimura/Barklage exchange on the right side. Kimura has 11 starts, Barklage has 12, and they've both played around 800 minutes each this season. The pair have combined for five assists.
Defensive depth would come from fullback Connor Lade, or rarely used center back Digao.
Luis Robles has played every single minute in goal this year. He's backed up by veteran Kevin Hartman, and second-year keeper Ryan Meara, who only recently returned from injury.
Possible Starting XI: Robles (GK), Kimura or Barklage, Holgersson, Pearce, Miller, Steele, McCarty, Cahill, Alexander, Espindola, Henry
Have thoughts on what the Red Bulls might bring to the table Sunday? Leave your message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org