|New York Red Bulls||Draw||Philadelphia Union|
The MLS Cup Playoffs begin this weekend, and there may not be a more exciting match in the Eastern Conference than the third-seeded Philadelphia Union hosting the sixth-seeded New York Red Bulls. With the new single-elimination playoff format, this match will determine who moves to the conference semifinal and who goes home.
The Union enter the playoffs needing to recover a bit of the swagger that had it shoot to the top of the East for much of the season. Philadelphia went 1-3-1 in its final five matches to drop to third in the conference but still has a good path to the final if the team can get past its rival from New York.
Striker Kacper Przybyło has been incredible for the Union this season, and the club will need his heroics to advance in front of the home crowd. Brenden Aaronson has impressed, as well, and Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie have formed a nice young defensive core. Philadelphia needs to play the tough defense its has all year to have an edge.
New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls had a couple chances to move up in the standings late in the season, but a 2-2-1 record down the stretch kept them in the sixth spot in the East. That means they will have to win on the road, where they were 5-9-3 this season. They will rely once again on Daniel Royer and Brian White—who combined for 20 goals this season—for scoring. Kaku is New York’s main offensive spark in the middle, but the defensive end is where the Red Bulls have struggled, and they need to improve on their own end to advance.
Prediction: Philadelphia wins 3-2 (+2050)
The Union has the edge in front of a home crowd, but Philadelphia is going to win because it has the best player on the field—Przybyło. It will be a slugfest, but the Union will advance.