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|Philadelphia Union win||+115
|New York Red Bulls win||+260
So begins this season’s race towards the MLS Cup.
On Saturday, Eastern Conference #2 seed Philadelphia Union will host #7 seed New York Red Bulls in the first game of the 2021 playoffs.
While the Union didn’t have too much trouble booking their place into this year’s postseason, the Red Bulls narrowly made it in thanks to a single point.
And although they’ve looked good in recent weeks, the Red Bulls should run into some problems in their next encounter.
Philadelphia are exceptional at home and should have a sizable advantage.
It’s going to be tough for the visiting side.
Pick the Union for the win.
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The Red Bulls were nearly on the outside looking in for this year’s MLS Cup playoffs.
Needing at least a point in their final game of the regular season, they were able to do just that with their latest 1-1 draw against Nashville SC.
Nashville had more possession and a couple of clear-cut chances but were never able to find a game-winner that would have knocked their opponents out of playoff contention.
Significant relief likely settled in for Red Bulls players after they booked their place into the postseason, and yet, they won’t have too much time left to take it easy.
They’ll not only have to travel away for this match, but they’ll also have to head into a venue that hasn’t been kind to many visitors.
Philadelphia’s recent form on their local turf speaks volumes. In their last five matches at Subaru Park, they’ve clinched five consecutive victories.
Looking at the entire regular season, only one team in MLS — Supporters’ Shield-winners New England Revolution — have amassed more points at home than the Union.
It has been an impressive run, and with only 10 goals allowed in their 17 matches at home, this’ll make things incredibly challenging for the Red Bulls.
Especially when you consider their issues in the final third…
Shot quality isn’t exactly a strength for the Red Bulls.
It’s evident when you’re watching them, and when looking at statistics, it’s even more apparent.
Whether it be in the Eastern or Western Conference, no team in the upcoming MLS playoffs have scored fewer in the regular season than the Red Bulls.
Things haven’t changed over the last month or so either. In their last six matches, they have only scored five times.
Despite the fact that some could point to their backline as being enough to keep them in the running, the reality is that their opponents are even better in that regard.
Sure, there are occasional moments when their frontline isn’t firing on all cylinders, but whenever needed, the Union’s defense has been more than up for the challenge.
Without needing to sacrifice as much as the Red Bulls going forward, Philadelphia manager Jim Curtin and his roster are regularly able to balance out an approach that can halt opponents from creating high-quality chances.
In net, it also doesn’t hurt that they have a Jamaican international goalkeeper like Andre Blake that was outstanding in the latest international window.
Against El Salvador and the United States in World Cup qualifiers, the 30-year-old held each team to just one goal.
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|Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls Information|
|Teams||Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls|
|Location||Subaru Park (Chester, Pennsylvania)|
|Time||Saturday, November 20th at 11:30 am PT/2:30 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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