Red Bulls aim to regain momentum in match vs. Union (Sep 17, 2017)
The New York Red Bulls will look to build momentum for their approaching U.S. Open Cup Final when they host the Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon.
After winning four times in the league in July, coach Jesse Marsch's Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points) have only one victory in their last six matches. They entered the weekend still in sixth place, five points ahead of Montreal and above the playoff line after three consecutive draws.
But with a chance to win their first Open Cup title the following Wednesday night at Sporting Kansas City, a win against Philadelphia (8-12-8, 32 points) would be an important confidence boost.
At the very least, New York leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips (15 goals) has a goal or an assist in six of the team's last eight games, including the opener in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Chicago.
"It shows consistency, which is something I have worked on," Wright-Phillips told mlssoccer.com. "When I was younger I wasn't too consistent, I don't think people knew what they would get from me. And to accomplish that is nice."
With only three days between the two matches, it's unclear whether Marsch will play a full-strength starting 11 against Philadelphia. In the semifinals at Cincinnati, Marsch started the same 10 field players as he did four days earlier in a league win against Orlando.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has continued to drift further off the playoff pace after going winless in their last five league matches.
They currently sit nine points behind New York and only have six matches left to play, meaning it would likely take a perfect close to the season to prolong any postseason hopes.
After qualifying for the playoffs for just the second time in club history last season, their downturn has built heat on coach Jim Curtin and drawn the attention of former Union player and current ESPN analyst Alejandro Moreno.
"If I was a fan, of course I would be frustrated thinking that there was going to be a step forward this year -- perhaps not a title, but being a player in the Eastern Conference," Moreno told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week. "The disappointing part is that instead of using it as a stepping stone, the team has taken a step back."