First thing's first: Because of the Sixers and Phillies, the Philadelphia Union game tonight against the rival New York Red Bulls is on something called WACP TV-4 (7:30 p.m). It sounds like a channel you probably don't get, but you definitely do:*
*UPDATE: Apparently the game is also on The Comcast Network, which I was unaware of. I'm assuming this plan was set into motion in case the Flyers opened their playoff series tonight and we had Phillies/Flyers/Sixers/Union overload. But, if you have Verizon FIOS, then you should find the channel below since you don't get TCN in HD (yet).
- XFinity - Channel 789 (HD) or Channel 4 (SD)
- FIOS - Channel 504 (HD) or Channel 4 (SD)
- DirecTV and Dish Network - Channel 4
- BONUS: It is also designated as the MLS Free Stream of the Week online.
- NOTE: It seems to not be showing up on my FIOS guide, so if you plan on DVRing the game, you might have to set it manually by time.
Now that that's out of the way: the Union have never had much luck in the swamps of New Jersey against the Red Bulls. The Union have lost five times and drawn once at Red Bull Arena -- a frustrating stat that doubles down on the team's frustrating 1-1-4 start. In all four of the team's draws so far, they've allowed a goal in the final ten minutes.
Tonight' game poses a major opportunity for the Union to not only put that start behind them, but also send their archival into a panic button-worthy tailspin.
The Red Bulls have yet to win a game, posting two losses and four draws. As one of the Eastern Conference favorites entering the season, things are getting pretty dicey for last year's league darling, New York head coach Mike Petke. A loss at home to your nearest rival wouldn't help that cause any.
It appears it'll be all hands on deck for the Union tonight, which is a good thing considering the team has a quick turnaround before Saturday's home date with Houston. Cristian Maidana should be back in the starting lineup after coming on in the second half against RSL and delivering a perfect assist on Maurice Edu's equalizer. And newcomer Andrew Wenger, who was mighty impressive in his Union debut, at least has a few training sessions under his belt.
The real question mark tonight won't be the midfield or attack, it'll be if the back line can get it together. For the first time all year, the Union trotted out what has to be considered their preferred defensive lineup on Saturday, with Austin Berry and Amobi Okugo in the center and Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis on the outside.
Berry did not exactly bathe himself in glory. First he surrendered an early penalty, then failed to cover on the ensuing penalty kick, negating an amazing save by Zac MacMath as Luke Mullholland came in untouched for the rebound. In the second half, he botched a challenge in the penalty area that led to Kyle Beckerman's go-ahead goal.
Berry will obviously have some growing pains this early with a new team, but he and Okugo need to figure things out fast, or Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls will make him regret it tonight.
The consensus prediction seems to be a draw tonight, especially considering the two teams have combined for eight draws in 12 games. Sadly (or not, if you go by the accuracy of most of my predictions), I think New York gets it together and prevents the Union from getting their first win in Harrison.
PREDICTION: Red Bulls 2, Union 1