Red Bulls-Union Preview

The Associated Press

While the fourth-place New York Red Bulls clinched a playoff spot last weekend, they have their sights set on finishing third.

Hoping to pick up three points and - with some help - avoid the one-game wild-card round, the visiting Red Bulls try for a three-game series sweep of the Philadelphia Union as both clubs conclude their regular-season schedules Saturday.

New York (15-9-9) locked up its third consecutive postseason berth and ninth in 10 years last Saturday with a scoreless draw against Eastern Conference-leading Sporting KC. The Red Bulls, though, are hardly content to just get in.

Sitting three points behind second-place D.C. and two in back of Chicago, New York has a chance to finish as high as third in the East. The Red Bulls can also drop into fifth with a loss or tie Saturday and a Houston win over Colorado.

The Fire host the United on Saturday afternoon while the Dynamo visit the Rapids later that night.

"On any given day anyone can win, especially going into the last game of the season," defender Connor Lade told the club's official website. "We can end up in a different array of positions. We're really just working hard to get the win and put ourselves in a good spot for the next round.

"We have to control what we can control, and that's Philly. We need to go down there. It's a tough place to play... We have to go in there ready to fight, because they have nothing to lose and that's always tough to play against."

New York has taken the last three matchups versus Philadelphia (10-17-6), including both this season. The Red Bulls pulled out a 3-2 victory in their last visit to PPL Park on May 13, then cruised to a 2-0 home win July 21.

"It doesn't matter," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said of the Union's poor record. "I've said it a thousand times, whoever you play in this league and whoever, if they had 19 points, it would be a hard game. That's what this league is all about. It's that even, and of course they would like to finish off well when they play at home."

Philadelphia, 6-3-1 over its last 10 league matches at home, is coming off a pair of road losses, falling 3-1 at Houston last Saturday and 2-1 to Sporting KC on Wednesday. Despite those lackluster efforts, the Union aren't likely to go down without a fight against the Red Bulls.

"New York is a rivalry game," defender Amobi Okugo told the Union's official website. "We haven't beat them this season, so we have to give the home fans something to remember going into offseason and to build into next season.

"We have to get out of this slump that we've been in with two road losses and it's going to be good to end the season at home against one of our rivals."