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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hackworth presser odds and ends looking toward NYRB

The Union haven't had much success in their history against New York, as detailed here. The numbers aren't pretty: 2-6-0 all-time, 0-4 at Red Bull Arena and 0-3 a season ago.

But times have changed. The Union (2-1-0, 6 points) are riding high and have had two weeks to prepare for their Eastern Conference rivals. The Red Bulls (0-2-2, 4 points) are still looking for the first win in the Mike Petke era.

Former Union player and current New York forward Josue Martinez,
here battling with Montreal captain Davy Arnaud last week,
could find himself starting against the Union this week
thanks to an injury-depleted Red Bulls frontline.

They've had their troubles defensively, allowing six goals in four matches, albeit three of them away from home. Next to Jamison Olave, an acquisition from Real Salt Lake last year, there's been a giant question mark in central defense (though Olave did have an own goal against Portland in the opener). Markus Holgersson, the occasionally disastrous, never boring Roy Miller and natural right back Heath Pearce have all deputized centrally.

But the real opportunity this week for the Union may be in the injuries the Red Bulls are suffering. Theirry Henry suffered an MCL strain March 16 and has only recently returned to training, but leading goalscorer Fabian Espindola missed training Wednesday with a hamstring strain picked up Tuesday and is a doubt for the weekend. Those injuries may leave former Union player Josue Martinez, who played the final 11 minutes in the loss to Montreal over the weekend, among the favorites to feature at forward.

So here's Hackworth's take

On the offseason additions:
"Espindola for me is one of the best forwards in this league. He’s very competitive but he’s got quality. He’s very smart. He finds space on the field. And he’s dangerous, and he proved that with Real Salt Lake. They got Olave from Real Salt Lake too, so they have a top center back. I think they made some very wise acquisition in the offseason to make them a better team. Mike is doing a great job so far, and from an outsider’s prospective, and I know some of the players on that roster, I know they’re feeling good about what they’re doing even if they’re not getting the results."

On Henry's possible absence:
"We prepared the whole time as if he was going to be on the field. If you look at the history of Henry in this league, you would think that he’s going to play in a game of this magnitude that was this important for the club. So we’ve prepared to have him on the field, and if he’s not on the field on Saturday, I think that’s an advantage for us because he’s one of the best players if not the very best player in this league."

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