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MLS Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union

RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
March 30, 2013 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #36)
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC SN) -- Live chat on

The New York Red Bulls return home looking for a first victory of the season when they play host to Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls have gone winless in their first four matches under new coach Mike Petke, coming off a 1-0 loss at Montréal last weekend. Union have won two games on the trot coming into this weekend, a home win against New England last time out followed by a weekend off.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Joe Fletcher; JAR (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 60 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 7


SUSPENDED: NY: Brandon Barklage (through March 30)

ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Red Bulls 5 wins, 12 goals … Union 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
AT NEW YORK (4 meetings): Red Bulls 3 wins, 5 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
RETURN MATCHES: 6/23: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN); 8/17: New York Red Bulls
vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
5/13: PHI 2, NY 3 (Pajoy 31, 46 – Lindpere 17; Holgersson 68; Cooper 78)
7/21: NY 2, PHI 0 (Cooper 43, 58)
10/27: PHI 0, NY 3 (Cooper 13, 66; Henry 35)

  • The Red Bulls have won the last four meetings between the clubs, including a clean sweep of the three meetings a season ago. New York hasn’t allowed a goal to Philadelphia in 224 minutes.
  • Union’s only two wins in the series have both come at PPL Park, in their first two home meetings with the Red Bulls (2010 and 2011).
  • Coaches record: Mike Petke vs. PHI: first game … John Hackworth vs. NY: P2 W0 L2 D0

The New York Red Bulls saw their season-opening winless run extended to four matches, dropping a 1-0 result to the Montréal Impact on Saturday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. The Red Bulls are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 2 points from 4 matches.


  • The game's lone goal came a quarter of an hour into the match. Patrice Bernier curled the ball first time between Red Bulls defenders Markus Holgersson and Brandon Barklage, and Marco Di Vaio calmly followed the ball’s path to the top of the box before burying a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
  • Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke made one change to the team that reached a scoreless draw with D.C. United at Red Bull Arena. Kosuke Kimura came into the back four for Jamison Olave, Juninho started in midfield in place of Tim Cahill, and Peguy Luyindula made his MLS debut in place of Thierry Henry.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Brandon Barklage (sent off 74), Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Kosuke Kimura - Eric Alexander (Lloyd Sam 83), Juninho, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele (Connor Lade 69) - Peguy Luyindula (Josue Martinez 79), Fabian Espindola.


  • The Red Bulls were shut out for a second consecutive match, their goalless streak now at 253 minutes, the second-longest in MLS this season (behind the Chicago Fire’s 334).
  • “It’s a difficult time for us because we started the season with two losses and two ties. I think we started this game off well, we had the ball, but we get one against us early on and it made the difference,” said Red Bulls midfielder Juninho Pernambucano. “After the goal, we continued to play possession but eventually the game levelled off. After the red, it became more difficult for us.”
  • The Red Bulls have started a season winless in their first four games for the first time since 2009, when they opened the campaign 0-2-2. Their longest winless stretch to begin a season came in 2006, when they started 0-1-5.
  • “If this is any other league in the world, it’s maybe a little worrisome,” said Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty. “But for us, we just stay positive and try to stay sharp in training because these last two games haven’t been terrible performances, just been kind of lacking a little bit of continuity in the final third. [We’ve got to] just keep going. It’s a long season, try to make the playoffs, 30 more games to make it right.”
  • Thierry Henry did not play in the match after suffering a sprain to the MCL in his left knee in the D.C. United match, and his availability for the Union match is still in question.
  • “Of course, there’s some tenderness and discomfort [but] we like where he’s at early in the week. [He was] competing in full training with certain times a little bit of limited mobility, but we like where he’s at right now,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke.
  • Center back Jamisón Olave also missed out on the Montréal match, held out because of the artificial surface at Olympic Stadium.
  • “It was a situation that how his knee reacted to the turf in [the season opener vs. the Portland Timbers] and it was advised by the medical staff not to play him on turf,” said Petke. “It’s a long season and why risk losing him now? We went with the medical advice, which I trust, and that’s why he didn’t play.”
  • Péguy Luyindula made his MLS debut, starting in attack and playing 79 minutes alongside Fabian Espíndola.
  • “We saw some very good things from Péguy. I think we saw the quality he has,” Petke said. “I think eight out of 10 times, he finishes one of those couple of chances he had and perhaps that’s chalked up to his first real 90 minutes in a long time. … His movement of the ball was very good, defensively he was committing to the pressure and everything, so it’s definitely something to build on.”
  • There was another injury blow during the week leading up to the Philadelphia match as Espíndola suffered a hamstring knock that kept him out of training.

Philadelphia Union return to league play following a weekend off, their last match a 1-0 victory against the New England Revolution on March 16 at PPL Park. Union sit in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 6 points from 3 matches.


  • The game's lone goal came after 75 minutes. The initial header by Jack McInerney from a Sebastien Le Toux corner kick was saved by Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, but McInerney pounced on the rebound and put into the back of the net.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was credited with two saves in his first clean sheet of the season.
  • Union team manager John Hackworth made no changes to the team that came away with a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis - Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Michael Lahoud 8), Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan (Antoine Hoppenot 67) - Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Chris Albright 87).


  • Union return to action following a bye week that followed a second consecutive victory. A year ago, they opened the season winless in four matches before recording back-to-back wins.
  • “I don’t remember who I was talking to but I was saying that last season we started 0-4 and put ourselves in a deep hole,” said Sheanon Williams. “This year we are starting off well and putting ourselves in a good position to have a good season. I think that will be big going forward so obviously again we were at home, so getting points at home for us are huge – and if they are three, they are even better.”
  • Each of Union’s last two goals have come from corner kicks – matching their total from corners for the entire 2012 season.
  • "To be honest, we knew last year with set pieces, offensively and defensively it was kind of a weak point," said defender Amobi Okugo. "I think early in the season we were joking with Seba, saying 'why is he taking corner kicks?', because we knew in the past he wasn't as good (with his service). But, to his credit, he's been putting in great balls and whether it's me, or Jack, or anyone else, we've been able to find space and get it on target."
  • Said Hackworth: “To [Le Toux’s] credit, he's been really consistent, and he's serving such a good ball. That's another aspect of being dangerous on corner kicks, and he continues to do that. I think that's just a development in his own game."
  • Union’s attacking fortunes changed with the introduction of Antoine Hoppenot at the three-quarter mark of the match. Hoppenot started three times in his 25 appearances in his rookie season.
  • “I think that when we moved Michael Farfan out wide left, he started out on the ball [New England] didn’t have a great way to defend that,” Hackworth said. “We just wanted to see if we could put Antoine in that situation. Now Antoine is going to stretch the defense with a lot of energy and a lot of pace and he did that. That allowed Jack McInerney to move out there and you are basically playing a 4-3-3 at that point and that opened the game.”
  • During their off week, Union completed the signing of 33-year-old former Brazilian international Kléberson. He has 32 caps with Brazil, and featured on their winning teams in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2004 Copa América and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, while also being selected to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
  • “We’re excited to have a player with his kind of experience join an already talented roster,” Hackworth said. “Kléberson has had success at the world’s highest level of competition – both on a club and international level – and we hope he can add another dimension to our team.”
  • On their off weekend, Union defeated Pumas UNAM of Mexico 1-0 at PPL Park in a somewhat ill-tempered friendly. The game’s lone goal came from Michael Farfan in the 68th minute; six yellow cards were shown on the evening.
  • “Regardless of friendly, Open Cup, whatever – anyone that comes to PPL Park is in for a fight,” said defender Williams. “That’s just how we’re going to play.”
  • Here’s the Union team: Konopka, Williams, Okugo (Jordan 46’), Parke (Carroll 46’), Gaddis, Lahoud, Torres (M. Farfan 61’), Hernandez (McInerney 61’), McLaughlin (Wheeler 46’), Fernandes, Hoppenot (Le Toux 61’)
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NY Red Bulls

Season Stats

New York Red BullsPhiladelphia Union
4Games Played3
6Goals Conceded4
17Shots on Target12
65Fouls committed47
39Fouls suffered39
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