Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union
Venue: Red Bull Arena – Saturday, October 1 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)
Match Odds: NY Red Bulls 1/2 – Draw 16/5 – Philadelphia 9/2
Both these sides are set for the playoffs but they are still looking to finish as high as possible, with the top two in the conference rewarded with a first-round playoff bye.
The Red Bulls have been sensational in recent months. They are unbeaten in 13 games – a franchise record – and despite some frustrating late collapses, they look like a complete team.Embed from Getty Images
Jesse Marsch will be delighted with the turnaround after a terrible start and will now be looking to win the Eastern Conference for a second successive season.
They beat Montreal 1-0 at home last week and are just a point behind Toronto going into the weekend.
For Philadelphia, it’s about trying to build some form back up ahead of the postseason. They haven’t won in four now and have yet to guarantee a top six finish so it’s important they bounce back.
A 1-1 draw at Toronto last time out wasn’t bad but defeats at Portland and Chicago prior to that will have frustrated Jim Curtin.Embed from Getty Images
The Union don’t have the best of records at Red Bull Arena, having only won one of their eight regular season trips there, so they aren’t expected to end their four-game winless streak on Saturday.
The reverse fixture this season ended 2-2 back in July, with Sacha Kljestan’s brace cancelled out by second-half CJ Sapong and Chris Pontius goals. The sides will meet again in Philadelphia on the final day of the regular season in three weeks.
The Red Bulls are still set to be without Ronald Zubar, Connor Lade and Gideon Baah for the visit of Philadelphia, while Omer Damari is a doubt and is unlikely to feature. Felipe is one booking away from suspension and needs to watch his step.
Philadelphia have one definite absentee, with Joshua Yaro sidelined as a result of concussion, while there are doubts over Maurice Edu, Walter Restrepo and Tranquillo Barnetta.
NY Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/D/D/W
Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/L/D/L/D
Key Stat: The Red Bulls haven’t lost in 13 MLS games and are unbeaten in 12 at Red Bull Arena, keeping clean sheets in eight of those games in front of their own fans. Fortress.
Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The Red Bulls talisman goes from strength to strength and is on his way to the MLS Golden Boot for the second time in three seasons. It’s incredible to think it took him until Week 8 to score this season but he now has 20 for the season, one ahead of David Villa going into the weekend.
New York Red Bulls 2-0 Philadelphia Union – The Red Bulls have proven to be an absolute force in MLS. They started poorly but Jesse Marsch has his team in great shape ahead of the playoffs. They should stretch their unbeaten run to 14 here with another home clean sheet also likely.