The Philadelphia Union host the New York Red Bulls on Sunday in a rivalry battle between Eastern Conference contenders at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Union sat atop the Eastern Conference table for much of the early part of the season, before being overtaken for first place by New York City FC. Philadelphia (8-6-5) has 29 points, one behind New York City.
The Red Bulls (8-9-3) are in third place with 27 points.
"Right now, looking at the table, it's a big six-pointer, and it could be an important result once you get to the end of the year," Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch told reporters. "We need to start to do better on the road. Period. It's a big test, going down to Philly. They've been really good at home, so we have to be ready at all levels."
This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams in MLS play. They did meet a month ago in U.S. Open play, with the Union pulling out a 2-1 win. It's developed into a heated rivalry.
"(It's) a rivalry game. Obviously, our fans don't like them. Their fans don't like us," Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin told the team's website. "The coaching staffs are very familiar with each other. We go back a long ways, and obviously, the players on the field. Two really good teams fighting for a top spot in the Eastern Conference. In our home building, we have a lot of success and we want continue that against a good Red Bull team. We want to press, we want to get after them and compete the right way."
The Red Bulls will have a rested Sacha Kjestan, who tallied four points against the Union last season. He sat out Wednesday's game against Orlando City. New York is 5-1-1 this season when Kjestan scores a goal or records and an assist.
The match features two of the three players to record hat tricks this season in Philadelphia's Roland Alberg and New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips. Alberg has six goals; Wright-Phillips had nine. >> Read more
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press