Mired in a bit of a slump following a lengthy unbeaten streak, the New York Red Bulls seemingly have a solid chance to get back on track facing a Philadelphia Union team they've beaten rather often.
Visiting New York seeks a sixth straight win over the Union when the rivals meet Sunday.
The Red Bulls (7-5-4) haven't played an MLS game since falling 2-1 to Vancouver on June 1, snapping their seven-game league unbeaten streak.
They followed that loss with a 4-2 defeat to New England in U.S. Open Cup competition on June 12, marking their first back-to-back losses across all competitions since falling to Montreal on July 28 and Houston on Aug. 3.
"I kept on saying for maybe five, six games in a row, I've said our luck is going away,'' captain Thierry Henry said.
New York's success versus Philadelphia has been ongoing thanks to Henry, who scored in the 81st minute for a 2-1 victory March 30. The Red Bulls have outscored the Union 11-3 while winning the last five meetings.
"It is going to be up to us to make sure that we can grab the three points," Henry said. "It won't be easy because they are a good team, but we need to go back on a good run."
Henry, who has a team-best six goals, believes the Union will provide a tough test. Jack McInerney has 10 goals and Sebastien Le Toux has six assists, placing each among the league leaders in those categories.
"We need to know where we are after the game against Vancouver and see how we can play against Philly," Henry said. "McInerney is on fire, you know Conor Casey is doing well too, Le Toux also, so we're going to have to be aware of that and make sure that we can go out there and compete."
Le Toux had two assists, one to Casey, in Philadelphia's 3-0 win over Columbus in its last MLS match June 5. Despite a 3-1 loss to D.C. in U.S. Open Cup competition June 12, coach John Hackworth believes his team is more than prepared to face the Red Bulls.
The Union (6-5-4) are three points behind New York in the tight Eastern Conference race.
"The fact that it's under the biggest spotlight we have in our league at the moment, on a Sunday afternoon, on national TV, at home against one of our main rivals, it puts a lot of opportunity out there for us," Hackworth said. "We're third in the East (heading into the weekend). We're sixth in the Supporters Shield (standings). If you would've asked me back in February if I would have headed into this stretch of games with those two stats I would have said, 'Absolutely, I'll take it.'"
The Red Bulls will be without midfielder Juninho and defender Jamison Olave due to one-game suspensions, but Hackworth knows New York will be ready to fill those voids.
"They're certainly a deep team," Hackworth said. "We don't ever take (New York) lightly."
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