Union squares off with Red Bulls at PPL Park

4:01 PM, Jun 21, 2013   |    comments
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Chester, PA (Sports Network) - A pair of heated Eastern Conference rivals will clash on Sunday as the Philadelphia Union welcome the New York Red Bulls to PPL Park.

Philadelphia is coming off an extensive break from league play and finds itself in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race at the midpoint of the season.

In the Union's last league match against Columbus Crew on June 5, the Union put together their most complete 90-minute performance of the season in a comfortable 3-0 victory at PPL Park.

Philadelphia got off the mark in the 25th minute against the Crew with a bit of good fortune as a long distance shot from Brian Carroll took a deflection and wound up in the back of the net.

Four minutes later it was 2-0 for the Union when Carroll flicked one toward the back post on a corner kick and Sheanon Williams was there to volley it home with an acrobatic finish.

And just three minutes after that, the Union completed the rout when Sebastien Le Toux sent a low cross toward the near post and Conor Casey finished with a diving header.

"We were due one of these games," said Union manager John Hackworth. "Our coaching staff felt like [this] was going to happen one way or another, sooner or later. Glad it happened in a game as important as this one. You get a little bit of a break now and maybe that gets a little bit of pressure off us."

New York is also coming off a break in its MLS schedule, having not played a league match since a 2-1 loss at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 1.

New York got on the board first in the 51st minute via an own goal from Greg Klasura, but Jordan Harvey put the sides back on level terms with a goal seven minutes later.

But Vancouver grabbed the winner seven minutes from time when Kenny Miller nodded home a cross from Russell Teibert to assure three points for his club and put an end to the Red Bulls' seven-match unbeaten run.

New York heads into Sunday's pivotal Eastern Conference battle without two of their top players in the midfield Tim Cahill will miss the match due to a groin injury, while Juninho will be unavailable due to yellow card accumulation.

"Hes not going to be here this weekend," New York head coach Mike Petke said of Cahill's status on Friday. "Hes got a family emergency and a little bit of a groin strain, little bit of one, or a groin issue."

A win for New York would give the club some cushion in second place, while a win for the Union would pull them even on points with the Red Bulls.

In eight all-time meetings between the sides, New York has dominated the series, posting a 6-2-0 mark against the Union. Philadelphia's last win against the Red Bulls came in 2011 when a lone tally from Roger Torres lifted the Union to a 1-0 result at PPL Park.

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