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PREVIEW: Unionize! The Red Bulls search for three points versus Philly, their hard work deserves some benefits

The New York Red Bulls are 0-2-4. Head coach Mike Petke’s team, along with four other Major League Soccer sides, are without a win after six games played. A dominant second half against DC United in their last game led to exactly zero points. With designated players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill in-and-out of the lineup, New York scored six goals and conceded 10 thus far.

Antoine Hoppenot versus Dax McCarty - phillysoccerpage.com

Antoine Hoppenot versus Dax McCarty – phillysoccerpage.com

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Union are 1-1-4. Despite early season praise and hype surrounding the team from Chester, PA, head coach John Hackworth’s team only has one win more than their “I-95 rivals”. Following the Wednesday night action, will the Red Bulls join the Union in the prestigious, non-playoff position of seventh with a desperately sought first win?

Pregame quote analysis: 

Thierry Henry on last Saturday’s result – 

“I’m very critical usually,” said Thierry Henry. “But if we carry on playing like we played in the second half in the games that are coming soon, hopefully we can get on a good run because there is nothing (negative) to say about how we played after 30 minutes.”

What he actually meant – 

  • “For me, I am a cranky son of a gun. I have to say, despite the itchiness of my beard, I am in a good enough mood to acknowledge our positive play. I mean who doesn’t love aimless crosses slammed in the direction of someone who cannot head well. I don’t know, that is my opinion.”

Dax McCarty on soccer superstition – 

“It’s a minor travesty that the result we show for it is a loss, but sometimes, the soccer gods are smiling on you and you get lucky bounces here or there, and sometimes they aren’t. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. Should have finished. The score could have been 4, 5-1 — and that’s being generous.”

What he actually meant – 

  • “Listen to this logic: the loss was all our fault, BUT the soccer gods may have had some influence, those bastards…”

Top three stories/questions fans may be pondering: 

  1. Will the Union’s 4-3-3 out-possess and play the Red Bulls 4-4-2? Rejuvenated Maurice Edu has two goals this season from his box-to-box midfield position with MLS veteran Brian Carroll. With newcomer Nogueira impressing since his move stateside (beginning with his first game in preseasoagainst New York), a two-man central midfield of McCarty and one of Eric Alexander or Peguy Luyindula may struggle in terms of pure numbers (three vs. two), skill (Nogueira) and athleticism (Edu). To compensate, Petke will probably instruct Henry to drop deeper and Steele to tuck inside to allow Miller to cover the left channel.
  2. For the millionth time, will Peguy Luyindula start as a central midfielder, play-maker or a forward? Please, can we find the answer. He excelled in Montreal as a play-maker but appeared confused in DC in the striking area. The former PSG player should spend more time facing goal instead of having his back to it.
  3. Can the “baby bull” reserves get some minutes? Both Connor Lade and Ruben Bover, two players who have excelled recently in reserve games, earned cameo minutes at the end of the United game. With the first team underwhelming at times, why not give the bench players more opportunities? Michael Bustamante is another candidate for partial time in upcoming games.

Scouting report: 

  • In Philly’s last game against an Eastern Conference team without a win (that played in a 4-4-2), they tied the Chicago Fire 2-2 on April 5. According to whoscored.com, the Union attacked the opposition’s right side 51 percent of the time, recorded 71 percent of their seven shots inside the 18 with Leo Fernandes recording the most shots (3) and converting one.
  • The Philly starting lineup versus Real Salt Lake the past weekend was as followed: Zach MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry, Raymond Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu; Sebastian Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira, Leo Fernandes; Andrew Wenger.
  • Here is Union center back Okugo unable to prevent a veteran striker from scoring. Here is Henry’s touch compilation from his last performance with Philly in town. And finally, below is New York’s French veteran connection bamboozling and confusing Okugo, leading to a Henry game winner in early 2013.
  • Can newcomer Austin Berry help his partner defending skilled attackers like the Arsenal legend? History (and the video below) suggests the answer is no. Yes, that is Berry on the end of Henry’s “showboat” moment.

Predicted starting lineup: Armando and Tim Cahill will NOT start.

Luis Robles; Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller; Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula, Johnny Steele; Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Predicted score: 1-0 Philly (Hoppenot)

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