Match preview: Union prep to battle rival New York Red Bulls Wednesday night (7:30 p.m.)
Philadelphia Union at Red Bull New York
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.; Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
TV: Special simulcast presentation on The Comcast Network and Atlantic City's WACP TV-4
Commentators: JP Dellacamera (play-by-play), Peter Pappas (color analyst); Radio: None
Game notes (PDF): Click here
It's been a surprisingly slow start for the Red Bulls, who have kicked off their Supporter's Shield defense with two tough losses and four draws in between.
Now six games into the season, New York is still looking for its first win.
They've been without the services of Tim Cahill, and played four of their six games on the road, but back-to-back games at Red Bull Arena will provide an opportunity for Mike Petke's team to get back to winning ways.
Standing in the way is the Philadelphia Union, which, Open Cup included, is 0-5-1 all-time inside Red Bull Arena and earned its first road point in the series with a scoreless draw just last Summer.
"It's interesting, because I think they're a team that everyone around the league really respects, and on paper they have a lot of quality and some world class players," said Union manager John Hackworth. "I think, within their own team, the talk coming out of their camp is that they've played well, and yet, similar to us, have given up goals at inopportune times, from numerous restarts and some penalty kicks. So I think they're feeling that they've played better than their results show, and that's a little bit scary, because you're looking at a team that's going to be highly motivated and hungry to get their first win, particularly at home."
The story was similar in 2013, when Red Bull began the season with a 0-2-2 record and won its first game of the year at home on March 30 against the Union.
That sparked New York, and they went 16-7-6 the rest of the way to finish on 59 points and earn the first trophy in franchise history.
This week, they are coming off an ugly 1-0 loss at D.C. United, a game in which they were certainly the better team. They outshot United 19-13 and won the possession battle, but could not find the back of the net.
That result followed a 2-2 draw in Montreal, and a 1-1 home draw against Chivas USA.
"I think, like a lot of teams, it's still early in the year, and while teams are playing parts of their game well, it's not a finished product yet," Hackworth continued. "Red Bull is probably suffering from that a little bit. They do have a lot of quality and you see the moments where they play well and they're a really good team. We've got to do a good job of containing them and trying to break that rhythm, because if they get going, they're very dangerous."
All-time, Philadelphia is just 3-7-1 against the Red Bulls, but last year's season series was a success for the Union. The three games were split, with Philadelphia earning a 3-0 home win to balance out the 2-1 loss and 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena.
"It proves that we can go up there and get a result," Hackworth explained. "We had a couple of chances up there before, where we felt like we played well, but we gave up goals late and lost all of the points. Hopefully I think the group of guys who are returning to Red Bull Arena will feel like, 'hey, it's not impossible for us to get a result up there'. We're trying to concentrate on what we need to improve on, and we know we're going to face a quality Red Bull team. It's gonna be difficult, but we're looking forward to it."
How do you think this rivalry match with go? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org