New York Red Bulls Stumble in Home Draw vs. Philadelphia Union: Three Thoughts


(Harrison, New Jersey)- Sunday afternoon saw the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union play to an entertaining yet scoreless draw. In the eyes of many in the Red Bulls community, only the full three points would suffice for this match to further secure a playoff position. They would have to settle for just the one point on this occasion, though.

New York totally dominated the game, with multiple quality chances coming in the first half. RBNY held about 62 percent possession over the Union and put together 504 passes. Additionally, over 60 percent of those passes came in the attacking half. Finally, the shot tally was won by NY 16-6. Philadelphia was under pressure nearly the entire game and did not concede.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake produced a Man of the Match performance at Red Bull Arena. He made some key stops to deny the likes of Gonzalo Veron, Derrick Etienne Jr., and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

New York Red Bulls Stumble in Home Draw vs. Philadelphia Union: Three Thoughts

Resting Starters

With debatably the biggest game in the club’s entire history on Wednesday, Jesse Marsch elected to rest many of his regular starters. The Red Bulls will play in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, a chance to win a first ever cup competition for the franchise. Marsch took no chances and started a very different lineup. Here’s how the Metro side came out against the Union:

Muhamed Keita played in his first MLS start and looked very promising, but not 90 minutes fit just yet. The back line looked less steady at times without Aaron Long as the anchor and the heroics of Tyler Adams. Up top, NY was dangerous and attacked with pace. Veron gave the Philly defense and Andre Blake a tough day at the office, but could not find the back of the net.

Marsch did eventually bring on Sacha Kljestan, Wright-Phillips, and Adams all the while in search of a winning goal. Those efforts were futile though, as Blake was equal to each attempt RBNY put on target.

Offensive Options

Each time there is some squad rotation for the Red Bulls it becomes more apparent how many viable attacking options they have. The starters being BWP, Kljestan, etc. are no-brainers, but who is first off the bench? Veron has been that kind of a “super-sub” all season, and he showed again on Sunday how dangerous he can be. But a couple skillful, creative plays from Etienne Jr. show that he could be called upon to create a chance.

Maybe as soon as the next match on Wednesday, fans will get to see Daniel Royer back available for selection after his injury in the Bronx in a loss to New York City FC. He was the most productive scorer at the time of his injury, so expect to see him right back in the starting XI whenever he’s ready. Keita showed his pace and passing prowess on the day. He is an exciting player to watch and he will likely contribute going forward.

Then, Marsch has the unused talents of Dilly Duka, and young signing Vincent Bezecourt. Neither have been given a chance to prove themselves with the Red Bulls first team, but do they even need to be considered? For now they will reside on the bench or with the New York Red Bulls II in the USL, but that kind of depth is the best situation for a coach to have.

Playoff Chances

RBNY’s playoff chances are likely settled. It is their desire for a home knockout round game that is in question. To earn a home game they will need to finish either third or fourth in the East which is probably not realistic anymore. SPI Soccer gives NY a 96 percent chance to make the playoffs, and two percent chance for a home game. It is probably safe to say the playoff teams in the East are locked up. The same statistical graphic gives the top six Eastern teams anywhere from 94 to 100 percent chance to make the playoffs. The two contenders below the red line, New England and Montreal, are both given just a four percent chance to make it.


New York did not really help their state of affairs on Sunday afternoon, and definitely should have been able to grab all three points. The fact that they only came away with one does not hurt them too much, but they will likely be stuck with an away game when the playoffs begin.

The most important thing for RBNY at this stage is Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park. They have an opportunity to win the first U.S. Open Cup trophy in club history, but have a tough test in SKC. Only time will tell if the Red Bulls will crumble in the big games as they are sometimes known for, or if they can prevail in this Final.

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