Each time "at New York" appears on the Philadelphia Union schedule, an ugly statistic jumps right off the page:
Philadelphia is 0-5-0 all-time at Red Bull Arena.
In other words, the Union has lost every single road game against rival New York.
But records, whether positive or negative, are made to be broken. This Saturday provides as good a chance as any to put that statistic to bed, once and for all.
"It's an arena, it's a team that when we've gone up there hasn't been the most hospitable to us," manager John Hackworth told reporters at his midweek press conference. "But we feel like we're in a good way right now and we can only control what we can, so our plan is to go up there and put in a performance that will hopefully get us a result."
The stakes are significant for this rubber match in New York.
Red Bull took the season opener at home before a weakened side was walloped 3-0 at PPL Park on June 23.
The first matchup this season, way back on March 30, was probably one of the better performances the Union has had at Red Bull Arena.
Dax McCarty scored the opener for the Red Bulls in the 55th minute, but substitute Conor Casey equalized off a Sheanon Williams long throw just six minutes later. For the next 20 minutes, Philadelphia's defense contained the New York attack with a road draw looking more and more realistic. It wasn't to be though, when Thierry Henry broke through in the 81st minute for the game winner.
Philadelphia was just ten minutes away from its first-ever result in New York.
"We're going to have to do a good job managing the early part of the game emotionally and not let it get away from us," Hackworth explained. "Then we hope we can get our game plan into effect and play with our rhythm and tempo that we like to play. We kind of battled them when we played up in New York earlier this year. But at the end of the game we let things slip away from us. I think we're a better team that we were then. We'll see on Saturday if we can go up there and finish what we started earlier in the year."
Both teams are statistically very similar in 2013.
Just for comparison, take a look at each team's home and away form:
- Red Bull home record: 7-2-2 (23 points)
- Red Bull road record: 4-6-3 (15 points)
- Philadelphia home record: 6-4-3 (21 points)
- Philadelphia road record: 4-3-4 (16 points)
Philadelphia is slightly better on the road, while Red Bull is among the best home teams in Major League Soccer. That means each team will be playing more to its strengths on Saturday.
A few more statistics of significance regarding Red Bull:
- Goals scored: 36 (tied for second best in MLS w/Union, Sporting KC, Vancouver)
- Goals allowed: 31 (third worst among playoff teams, Philly is ranked No. 2)
- Home goals scored: 22 (third best in MLS)
- Home goal differential: +11 (fourth best in MLS)
- Road goals scored: 14
- Road goal differential: -9 (tied for third worst among playoff teams)
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org