CHESTER, Pa. – After getting a late winner from Auston Trusty last weekend to beat Minnesota United and end a three-match winless streak, the Philadelphia Union search for their first win before home fans in a month when welcoming the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada).
Some healthy rivalry is in the air.
“We don’t need to motivate the players when it’s a Red Bull week,” head coach Jim Curtin said after training on Wednesday. “We know them very well, they know us very well. Two top teams in our league right now in very good form. Chris Armas has done a great job with their club, especially in recent weeks.”
The Red Bulls have won four of their last five games to draw within four points of the first-place Union. A win for the Union would be their first since they shellacked the New England Revolution, 6-1, back on May 4. It would also create some separation in the Eastern Conference standings.
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After the New England blowout and road win in Toronto, the Union picked up just two points from three games against Western Conference foes at home, drawing the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids and losing 3-1 to the Portland Timbers.
“We were very frustrated to not pick up at least two wins at home in those three games against teams I felt we dominated,” captain Alejandro Bedoya said, noting that they need to be more clinical in front of their home fans. “It’s just taking our chances at home now. I think teams have given us a lot more respect. I don’t expect Red Bulls to really [bunker in] just because of the style they do play.”
Bedoya doesn’t expect as open a game as they played in Minnesota, which resembled a track meet at times.
“I have full confidence in our midfield to play through them, get out of tight spots when they press us and find space in behind,” Bedoya said.
Both teams will miss players currently away on international duty. The Union will be without goalkeeper Andre Blake (Jamaica) and reserve midfielder Warren Creavalle (Guyana). Marco Fabian is questionable after being ruled out of the Gold Cup this week by Mexico because of a lingering ankle injury.
While the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup is next week, both teams will be off from league play after Saturday until the end of the month, which raises the stakes.
“You don’t want to go into a break when your next league game’s not until the 26th with a bad taste in your mouth and have to think about it,” Curtin said. “We’re in a good run of form and I think we have to end the right way in our home stadium and give something that leaves everyone happy and wanting more moving forward.