Mo and NYRB

Know Your Opponent: New York Red Bulls

This week the Union (2-7-3) head up I-95 to take on the New York Red Bulls (4-1-5) on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

What you need to know:

At the moment, the Red Bulls are one of the better teams in the MLS, currently sitting third position in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls were the last remaining undefeated team in the league until they lost to the New England Revolution on May 2. First year head coach Jesse Marsch has the team playing some of its best soccer in years, even though the team lost superstar Thierry Henry in the offseason.

Under Marsch, the Red Bulls play a high-energy, high pressure style that sees them aggressively pursue the ball at all times. With midfield players Dax McCarty and Sacha Kljestan dispossessing opponents and making runs into the box, it opens up space for the Red Bulls leading goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips to move freely around the box and look for a pass in from the wings.

They have a solid defensive backline, held together by goalkeeper Luis Robles and center back Matt Miazga. Robles has started and finished every regular season game for the Red Bulls since 2013, including all 10 this year. Robles averages around three saves per game and has three shutouts this season. Miazga is a 19-year-old who was put in the starting lineup due to injuries and has excelled in the role. However, he will miss the game against the Union due to his call up to the U-20 United States National Team for the U-20 FIFA World Cup that begins in late May.

Players to watch out for:

Lloyd Sam, Winger: Sam is one of the more experienced players on the Red Bulls, having played in his native England early in his career. Since joining the Red Bulls in 2012 and playing on the right side, Sam has given the team a boost of speed and skill on the wing. In 10 games this year, Sam has three goals and three assists.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, Forward: Wright-Phillips is one of the deadliest forwards in the MLS as seen by the 27 goals he scored last season. Wright-Phillips is the most important part of the Red Bulls attack, either scoring or assisting on eight of the team’s 14 goals.

Sacha Kljestan, Midfielder: Kljestan is a new addition to the Red Bulls, coming over in the offseason from Anderlecht in Belgium. Kljestan is the man who makes the team go, playing in the center of midfield, lying deep enough to play defense when not in possession and far forward enough to press up when on the attack. Kljestan has tallied two goals and one assist so far this season.

Probable line-up:

Goalkeeper: Luis Robles
Defenders (left to right): Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Karl Ouimette, Chris Duvall
Midfielders (left to right): Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe Martins, Lloyd Sam
Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips

Facts and Figures:

The Union are 4-7-2 all-time against the New York Red Bulls, with a 0-5-1 record against them at Red Bull Arena. In their last match-up, on Sept. 13, 2014, the two teams finished the game in a tie after the Union climbed back from two-goal deficit. Sebastian Le Toux scored a penalty kick at the end of the second half in the second minute of stoppage time to secure the tie.

The Union are coming off a 1-0 win against D.C. United on Sunday, while the Red Bulls are coming off a 0-0 draw against FC Dallas.


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