Union-Red Bulls: Lineups and pregame thoughts
- Jim Curtin said pretty bluntly Thursday that he wants players training before a game. When Rais M’Bolhi didn’t arrive back in the states until Friday, the decision was made to go with Zac MacMath for at least one more game. The appearance is MacMath’s 100th in MLS, 99 of them starts.
- Given the conditions and the Open Cup final looming Tuesday, the Union are resting most if not all of their big guns. They have only four regulars out there, not including Carlos Valdes, Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey (who doesn’t make the bench), Cristian Maidana or Vincent Nogueira. The conditions are poor, and that might factor in, but the challenge is clear to the reserves to take care of business.
- That said, this isn’t a youth team. Brian Carroll is out there with the sole objective of keeping a clean sheet. Danny Cruz and Fred are well rested. The biggest revelation concerns Pedro Ribeiro, who apparently has supplanted Brian Brown in the forward pecking order.
- The gaping absence for the Red Bulls is MLS leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, who’ll sit the bench with a hamstring injury. In place of his 21 goals this season, Thierry Henry will lead the line, and Tim Cahill gets a start after a sub appearance midweek. Given the glut of games for the Red Bulls (including CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday), not pushing Wright-Phillips makes sense. Saer Sene is also looming on the bench.