Preview: New Red Bull Le Toux to battle former club Union

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
July 21, 2012 (WEEK 20, MLS Game #189)
2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN/Deportes; TSN2/RDS2)

The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union renew their burgeoning rivalry before an ESPN audience when the clubs meet for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls continued their home form at midweek, defeating the Chicago Fire 1-0 to remain in second place in the East. Union have now won three in a row under interim manager John Hackworth, defeating the Montréal Impact 2-1 at home last weekend. The clubs met May 27 at PPL Park, with the Red Bulls coming back for a 3-2 victory.

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Niko Bratsis
MLS Career: 70 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 14; pens: 11

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INJURY REPORT:

  • NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Teemu Tainio (R knee sprain); FW Jose Angulo (R knee sprain); DF Heath Pearce (R hamstring injury); DF Jan Gunnar Solli (R hamstring injury); DF Rafa Marquez (L calf injury); QUESTIONABLE: GK Ryan Meara (R hip injury)
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion); DOUBTFUL: DF Michael Farfan (R groin strain); DF Bakary Soumare (R knee menisectomy recovery); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chandler Hoffman (L big toe fracture); PROBABLE: DF Cristhian Hernandez (L ankle sprain); GK Zac MacMath (R ring finger avulsion); DF Sheanon Williams (R big toe avulsion); DF Chris Albright (stomach virus)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Joel Lindpere, Dax McCarty … PHI: Carlos Valdes
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Mehdi Ballouchy … PHI: Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Red Bulls 3 wins, 7 goals … Union 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
AT NEW YORK (2 meetings): Red Bulls 2 wins, 3 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
FUTURE MATCH: 10/27: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 1:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports)
• Kenny Cooper’s late goal capped a wild win for the Red Bulls in their first meeting this season, a 3-2 victory May 13 at PPL Park.
• The home team had won the first four meetings lifetime between the clubs. Each team claimed 1-0 victories at home in their meetings of a year ago.
• Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. PHI: P5 W3 L2 D0 … John Hackworth vs. NY: first game

LAST MEETING (MLS)
5/13: PHI 2, NY 3 (Lindpere 17; Holgersson 68; Cooper 78 – Pajoy 31, 46)
• The Red Bulls took the lead in the 17th minute. Mehdi Ballouchy secured possession on a long ball, turned and passed it back to a streaking Joel Lindpere just inside the box, who fired a left-footed rocket that beat Union 'keeper Zac MacMath to the near post. But Union were level in the 31st minute when Freddy Adu lofted a cross from the right that found the head of Lionard Pajoy in the area.
• Adu was then sent off two minutes before the break for a second yellow card, for a simulation in the area as he tried to draw a foul after splitting a pair of New York defenders.
• Yet the Union scored an unlikely goal almost immediately after the second-half kickoff as Pajoy capitalized on a quick change of possession, beat New York defender Markus Holgersson and then slotted a tough-angle shot into the back of the net.
• In the 68th minute, the Red Bulls took advantage of their man-up situation and leveled terms when Holgersson headed home a corner kick from Brandon Barklage.
• Ten minutes later, the Red Bulls hit for the winner. Rafa Marquez lofted a ball over the Union backline and Kenny Cooper chased it down in the penalty area, rounding MacMath and sliding the ball into the goal from a sharp angle.
• NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-4-1): Ryan Meara - Brandon Barklage, Tyler Ruthven (Victor Palsson 64), Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller - Dax McCarty - Dane Richards, Rafa Marquez, Joel Lindpere, Mehdi Ballouchy (Juan Agudelo 55) - Kenny Cooper.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Zac MacMath - Michael Farfan, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Raymon Gaddis - Freddy Adu (sent off 43), Gabriel Gomez (Josue Martinez 84), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Chandler Hoffman 77) - Danny Mwanga (Kai Herdling 67), Lionard Pajoy.

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls put an end to their three-game winless run, defeating the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are in second place in the Eastern Conference, with 35 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: NY 1, CHI 0

• The game's lone goal was a stunner on 71 minutes. Sebastien Le Toux hit a diagonal aerial ball to a streaking Thierry Henry, who chested the ball down before hitting a left-footed volley that flew over outstretched goalkeeper Sean Johnson, stung off the far post and crossed the goal line.
• Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made three changes to the team that reached a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at Red Bull Arena. Wilman Conde came into the back four for Rafa Marquez, and Victor Palsson and Mehdi Ballouchy came into the side for Connor Lade and Kenny Cooper.
• NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Bill Gaudette - Brandon Barklage, Markus Holgersson, Wilman Conde (Stephen Keel 87), Roy Miller - Mehdi Ballouchy, Dax McCarty, Victor Palsson (Connor Lade 61), Joel Lindpere - Thierry Henry (Kenny Cooper 82), Sebastien Le Toux.

TEAM NEWS
• The Red Bulls are still unbeaten at Red Bull Arena this season (6-0-3), one of two teams undefeated in home play this season (along with Houston).
• “It is a big win, (we’ve been) picking up injuries and not playing twice in a row with the same team,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “Three points today and hopefully on Saturday we can pick up a good result and then we have a good stretch and take advantage of three home games.”
• The shutout was the first for the Red Bulls in 10 games, since a 1-0 victory against the Houston Dynamo on May 9.
• “The first time in a while we got a clean sheet and that is what we wanted from today’s game. And (we) scored the first goal. So perhaps you can say the players were a little bit scared of the heat,” Backe said. “We could have gone forward from central midfield in the second half much quicker but the players chose to have a lot of possession. But I can understand it with this heat.”
• Henry scored his first goal since April 28, a span of 12 games. He pulled into a tie for third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 10 goals.
• “It’s an absolutely phenomenal goal. Normally when you have that angle and you use your left foot with that kind of volume, you think this is over the bar or something like that,” said Backe. “It’s an absolutely phenomenal strike and probably one of the few guys that can do those kind of goals.”

WATCH: Lade reacts to 1-0 win over Chicago

• After starting the game in a withdrawn role against Seattle, Henry moved more forward, partnering Sebastien Le Toux with Kenny Cooper moved to the substitutes’ bench.
• “Striker instincts,” Henry said. “I went for goal and the ball went into the back of the net. I tried in the first half with my right and I disturbed a fan over there. I kicked the ball in the stands. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. But I’m never scared to try anything.”
• After five consecutive starts, Connor Lade began the game on the substitutes’ bench, but played the final half-hour.
• “For me, he’s the player of the season so far, with Brandon (Barklage),"  said Henry. "They’ve been doing extremely well. You saw it, as soon as he came on the game changed. He was in their face, in their feet, in whatever, you know, typical him; twisting, turning, jumping everywhere. When I turned and saw that he was coming on it gives you a little lift, a big lift. I’m a big fan of his and what I like about him is he always puts his head down and he works. He changed the game when he came on.”
• Le Toux will face his former club for the first time in an Eastern Conference match; he faced Union on March 31 with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, playing the full 90 minutes of a scoreless draw.
• “I already played one game with Vancouver in Philly so it was very special," said Le Toux. "But now it is here and it’s going to be a memory. There’s a lot of competition between the teams; it’s kind of like a firm. But at this age you can’t really think about it. You just try to do the best for your team."

PHILADELPHIA UNION
The Philadelphia Union made it three wins in a row in dramatic fashion, getting a late winner for a 2-1 win against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at PPL Park. The Union are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from 17 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 2, MTL 1

• The Union took the lead in the 82nd minute. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot kept the ball alive along the end line and drove it toward goal. After the ball bounced off a defender and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, Lionard Pajoy banged home the loose ball right in front of goal.
• But the Impact leveled the score just seven minutes later after a Patrice Bernier corner kick bounced off the head of Union midfielder Keon Daniel and into the goal.
• But the home side netted the winner in stoppage time. Sheanon Williams sent in a long throw-in from the right flank, the ball bounced off a defender, and captain Carlos Valdés pounced it and drove into the goal for the decider. Davy Arnaud and Felipe came back for Montreal in place of Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi.
• Union interim manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that recorded a 3-0 defeat of Toronto FC at PPL Park. Michael Lahoud, Keon Daniel and Josue Martinez came into the team, in place of Gabriel Gomez, Lionard Pajoy and Michael Farfan.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Michael Lahoud (Gabriel Gomez 66), Brian Carroll - Freddy Adu (Lionard Pajoy 46), Keon Daniel, Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot 60) - Jack McInerney.

TEAM NEWS
• The Union have won three league games in a row for the first time in club history. “I think it’s massive, and when you can do that it really changes the balance of things,” said interim manager John Hackworth. “You know, you get back three points back in the standings but you take away three points from the opponent, who’s battling the whole time. We have a couple games in hand over Montreal. You have to keep plugging away and making sure we go after those points.”
• After the victory, positions 6-9 in the Eastern Conference are separated by just four points, with ninth-place Union on 20, New England and Columbus with 22 and Montreal at 24. Fifth place – and the final playoff position – is a further seven points away.
• “I think we’re right back into the mix now,” said striker Jack McInerney. “It’s a good confidence builder for us, especially since we have a bunch of games in hand, we can build off this.” Added midfielder Michael Lahoud: “We’re keeping an eye on what we’re doing. Our destiny is in our own hands, for sure. Getting wins like this definitely keeps it that way. That’s how we want to keep on going for the rest of the year.”
• Carlos Valdés celebrated his selection to the 2012 MLS All-Star team with his first goal of the season, the dramatic match-winner.
• “In the last games we tried to play the long ball by Sheanon (Williams)," Valdés said. "We didn’t have the opportunity to score in the last games but today we had the possibility to score. I think it is from that. In the last minute, nobody is expecting us to score and win the game.”
• While he did not receive an assist, Antoine Hoppenot’s blocked shot created the first Union goal. He was making his sixth consecutive appearance off the substitutes’ bench.
• “Antoine’s unbelievable,” Williams said. “We were just talking about how nobody that plays soccer at a high level would have kept pushing down that line on that play. He just kept churning going back, turning, going back … that’s Antoine. He’s stubborn, but effective.”
• After coming off the bench in the LA match, Lionard Pajoy returned to the Union starting lineup.
• “The coach has always told me that whenever the ball is coming from the sideline, to get near the goal, and play the No. 9 position,” Pajoy said. “I was able to be in the right place and luckily, was able to get a touch on the ball that became the goal.”
• On Wednesday, Union lost 1-0 to Aston Villa of the England Premier League in a friendly at PPL Park. The game’s lone goal came from Nathan Delfouneso on 43 minutes.
• Union ran out a starting lineup filled with reserves: Zac MacMath; Ray Gaddis, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Jimmy McLaughlin, Cristhian Hernandez, Antoine Hoppenot, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Gabriel Gomez.