Daniel Edelman said that the Red Bulls will focus on how “we almost out mentality them and really set them straight from the beginning : (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Ah, nothing like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
After dispatching second-place CF Montreal north of the border on Wednesday night, the third-place Red Bulls will face their biggest challenge of the MLS season when they host the red-hot Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
How hot is the Union?
Philly has put some distance between itself and Montreal, heading into the match with an eight-point lead in the MLS Eastern Conference with a 16-4-9 record and 57 points.
The team from the City of Brotherly love has mauled its opponents recently. Philadelphia recorded 6-0 routs of D.C. United and Colorado Rapids on Aug. 20 and Aug. 27, respectively, before turning a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 romp past Atlanta United on Wednesday.
Philadelphia is tied with the Los Angeles FC for the Supporters’ Shield lead.
And the Union (16-4-9, 57 points) has a goal differential of plus 40, 15 more than its nearest competitor, the Western Conference leading LAFC.
That’s how hot the squad is.
Which brings us to the Red Bulls, who probably will have to play a perfect game in a venue in which they have struggled. The are a confounding 4-5-5 at RBA this season.
Gerhard Struber realized what was at stake.
“Let the stone roll, I think this is very important, but the stone will not roll for itself,” he said. “I think we have to push in every direction … with all our power, with a team that understands to be on the same page, being in synchronized moments.”
Struber added that the Red Bulls could not give the Union much attacking space so “that they cannot develop their typical dynamic and their different moves [that] they’ve done in the past.”
“We have big respect for Philadelphia, the best team for me in the league with many key players and also with a clear identity,” he continued. “It’s a tough game, and one more time a super chance for us to grow against a team like Philadelphia. What we showed in Montréal, and we can reproduce this tomorrow in the game and I have a very good feeling this is also a very tough game for Philadelphia.”
A win would solidify the Red Bulls’ (13-8-8, 47 points) hold on third place. In fact, if Montreal loses at Toronto FC, a win would boost New York into second place.
Trying to overcome a team like Philly will be difficult enough, but midfielder Daniel Edelman was confident the Red Bulls could record three points.
Edelman said the team will focus on how “we almost out mentality them and really set them straight from the beginning and set the tone early and give them no hope or any sort of desire to even want to be in Red Bull Arena at the moment.
“We think that we can put them right away. They are going to be good. They are going to have some guys who can do some things. They are a team that is a club that is very well connected and they have good chemistry, but we are even tighter. Our principles are going to definitely hope to outmatch them on the day if we stick to having a good mentality.”