The Philadelphia Union travel to Red Bull Arena with little to play for but pride on Sunday afternoon.
Having been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for several weeks, the Union will look to play party poopers against a New York Red Bulls side that is neck and neck with FC Dallas in the race for the Supporters' Shield. Dallas currently have the edge having clinched 1st in the West with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Now the pressure is on New York to match Dallas' result, knowing that Dallas has a three point lead at the moment. The match however isn't totally meaningless for Philadelphia- they can temporarily jump above New York City FC into 8th place in the East with a win.
The two sides have split the regular season series this season with the Union having won 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on May 24th, with goals from Vincent Nogueira and CJ Sapong. Red Bull however, won by the same margin, defeating Philadelphia 3-1 at PPL Park on August 1st with goals from Sacha Klejstan, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Anatole Abang with the Union's consolation goal coming from Sebastian Le Toux. The teams also faced off in quarter final of US Open Cup play with the Union coming away victorious on penalties.
Overall the Union are 5-9-1 in league play against the Red Bulls, and despite the lopsided record the matches always prove to be fiery affairs. Furthermore, the Union have gotten the better of the Red Bulls in the cup this season .
New York remain without Chris Duvall through long term injury while Anatole Abang and Roy Miller will also miss out.
As for Philadelphia, they'll be without youngster Jimmy McLaughlin, captain Maurice Edu, goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, and midfielder Fred.
It may well be a battle of the playmakers for this local rivalry with both #10's in excellent form of late, Red Bull's Kljestan scored in a previous meeting against the Union and has accumulated seven goals and 12 assists this season as part of New York's formidable three man midfield with Felipe Martins and Dax McCarty. On the other hand, Maidana has one goal and 15 assists, shouldering the burden of chance creation for the Union prior to Tranquillo Barnetta's arrival.
Other match ups to look for include:
Bradley Wright-Phillips - Richie Marquez and Steven Vitoria:
Given New York's tendency to play a single striker, Wright-Phillips is likely to contend with the Philadelphia center back pairing on his own. Marquez reads the game well and both are very physical defenders so they should pose quite the challenge for the Englishman, who has scored several times against Philadelphia in the past.
Given Philadelphia's pride and New York's desperation for a result, the match should prove to be quite the entertaining affair.