Harrison, NJ – Neck-and-neck in the Eastern Conference table, Red Bull New York and the Philadelphia Union will look to improve their standing when the two sides meet at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
The two clubs have met twice already this season with both sides claiming maximum points on home turf. The Red Bulls ran out to a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena on March 30 while the Union earned a resounding 3-0 win at PPL Park on June 23.
New York was in fine form after a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Independence Day, claiming 10 points from its following four matches and outscoring its opponents 11-5.
But the Red Bulls were brought back down to reality last time out as they suffered a 2-0 road loss to the Columbus Crew.
"We didn't come with quite the right mentality and as a result we kind of put ourselves behind the 8-ball," said Red Bulls assistant coach Robin Fraser, who performed the bench duties after Mike Petke received a red card in the club's victory at Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 3. "To be fair, we hung in there and we were plugging along and trying to find our way forward."
Thierry Henry was held out of the loss to Columbus as a precautionary measure due to some inflammation in his Achilles, but Petke, who will return to the sidelines himself, revealed that the Designated Player will be on the pitch against the Union.
"I fully expect Thierry to be available this weekend, 100 percent," said Petke. "It was something that I was aware about all (last) week. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen and then on Thursday, we made a precautionary decision. It was acting up and we went with it."
New York's loss to the Crew opened the door for the Union to close the gap at the top of the Eastern Conference table. They took advantage as a 2-0 home win over D.C. United was enough to bring Philadelphia to within a point of the second-place Red Bulls.
"It was a must-win," said striker Conor Casey, who produced both goals in the victory. "We were playing against an Eastern Conference team that has struggled this year and has had some injuries coming into this week. Regardless, we haven't dropped two in a row yet this year and we were playing at home. It was a must-win and it was great that we were able to come away with the points."