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Short-handed Philadelphia Union take on Red Bulls

Jun 21, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Philadelphia Union midfielder Leon Flach (31) controls the ball against Orlando City SC in the second half at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The host Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls will meet Sunday night, with both looking to avenge disappointing midweek performances on the road.

Philadelphia (13-8-4, 43 points) saw a three-match win streak halted Wednesday in a 3-1 defeat at last-place Toronto FC, which snapped their eight-match losing streak.

Of more concern than the uncharacteristic performance will be the three players who won’t be available Sunday because of events during those 90 minutes on Wednesday night.

Jose Andres Martinez (yellow card accumulation) and Jesus Bueno (red card) will both serve one-match suspensions. Leon Flach aggravated an injury that will now be season-ending, leaving the Union without three of their four potential midfield starters.

“We are a little bit short-handed but we have a deep group and we’ll still put out a really, really strong 11 on the field,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “And we’ll need guys to come off the bench and help us.”

Fourth-place Philadelphia still has a comfortable cushion of 13 points in terms of Eastern Conference playoff safety.

For the Red Bulls (7-11-8, 29 points), a result Sunday is of more pressing need as they enter the weekend in 12th place but within striking distance of ninth place and the final playoff spot.

New York has failed to score in its past two games, including a 1-0 defeat at the New England Revolution on Wednesday.

“Three out of the last four halves have not been in our identity and at the level that we’re capable of. That’s what I’ve seen,” Red Bulls coach Troy Lesesne said. “Outside of the goals, really what I want to see against Philadelphia is to be completely in our style of play, completely in our behavior and just full commitment toward doing what we do best.”

The Red Bulls’ 23 goals scored is tied for worst in the East. Only the Colorado Rapids, with 16 points, have scored fewer.

The low offensive output sparked New York to sign striker Jorge Cabezas on loan from Watford FC in early August. But he has failed to register a shot in 78 minutes across his first two MLS appearances, including his first start on Wednesday at New England.

–Field Level Media