Chester, PA – Red Bull New York has one mission when it heads to PPL Park to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday: win.
The Red Bulls enter the match occupying fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 54 points. The primary goal for the team is to avoid the dreaded play-in game for the number four and five seeds.
In order to avoid that scenario, New York needs to take all three points from the Union and hope that the Chicago Fire fail to take maximum points from its match against D.C. United later in the day.
One of the strong suits for the Red Bulls this season has been their offense, which has scored the third-most goals in the league. But Hans Backe's side has been firing blanks lately, getting shut out of its last two league matches.
That's not to say that New York hasn't created chances. The club was held to a 0-0 home draw by Sporting Kansas City last time out, a match that Backe said could have easily been a rout in favor of the Red Bulls.
"It's definitely one of the better games so far we have played over 90 minutes," Backe said. "That intense, a lot of energy, many, many chances to score. We should've won the game 3-, 4-0. I must say I'm very pleased with our performance [Saturday]."
The Red Bulls are likely to deploy the same defensive unit that kept a clean sheet against Sporting as Brandon Barklage and Wilman Conde have been ruled out for the Union clash.
Philadelphia should provide a stern test for New York in the regular season finale.
Forget about the Union's two-game losing skid; anything can happen in a derby match.
"We have to recover," said Union manager John Hackworth after the club's 2-1 loss to Sporting on Wednesday. "This has been our second game in four days. We've got some tired bodies in there - mentally and physically. We're a little banged up - we've got some injuries. We've got to regenerate. I know we will be ready for New York on Saturday."
Jack McInerney will be looking to end the season on high note. The young striker had scored in a club-record four consecutive matches, but that streak ended in Philadelphia's loss on Wednesday.