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Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls Odds & Pick – MLS Cup Playoffs Round 1

Gary Gowers

by Gary Gowers in Soccer News

Updated Apr 3, 2020 · 9:00 AM PDT

Talen Engery Stadium
Philadelphia Union's spectacular Talen Energy Stadium plays host to the Round 1 playoff tie against New York Red Bulls. Photo By Jamie Sned (Wiki Commons)]
  • MLS Cup Playoffs begin this weekend with Round 1 from October 19-20
  • Philadelphia Union are favorites to beat the Red Bulls
  • Union end the regular season in poor form

It’s nearly playoff time in the MLS and in Philadelphia, the Union are looking for their first-ever MLS Cup win when they host rivals New York Red Bulls in a Round 1 clash at Talen Energy Stadium on October 20, at 3:00 pm EST.

Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total Odds
Philadelphia Union -0.5 (+110) EVEN O 3.0 (EVEN) -200
New York Red Bulls +0.5 (-130) +240 U 3.0 (-125) +150
Draw N/A +265 N/A N/A

*All odds taken on October 16, 2019

Union Odds-On

The Union start the game as odds-on favorites, mainly down to their home advantage, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that last time the two teams met, Red Bulls won the game 2-0. This one will be tighter than the odds suggest.

Over the course of the spring and summer, they have played each other three times – including preseason – with the Union winning twice, 3-2 on both occasions, and suffering the aforementioned defeat in mid-September. On that basis, it really could go either way although the Union will use home advantage as motivation and put the recent defeat down to ‘one of those days’, while the Red Bulls will draw on the positives of that 2-0 win.

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Missed Opportunity for Union

Union entered the penultimate week of the regular season still with an outside chance of winning the Eastern Conference, but after back-to-back defeats – against Colombus and New York City FC – they dropped to third place. The Decision Day defeat to New York City was particularly disappointing as they were at home, in Chester, and were looking to enter the playoffs with some momentum.

As it transpired, goals from Ronald Matarrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi inside the opening 30 minutes effectively killed the game before Union grabbed a consolation three minutes from time from a Marco Fabian penalty. To compound a miserable day for Philadelphia, leading scorer Kacper Przybylko suffered an ankle injury in the pregame warmup, although coach Jim Curtin thinks he may still be able to make the playoff game.

Underwhelming Red Bulls

The Red Bulls also had an underwhelming finish to the regular season with only two wins in their final seven games, but heading into Decision Day they still had an outside chance at finishing fourth and therefore being at home for their Round 1 game. They failed, however, to grasp this opportunity and following a very disappointing 3-0 defeat in Montreal they dropped to sixth in the Eastern Conference table.

Bojan and Maximiliano Urruti gave the Impact a two-goal half-time lead at Stade Saputo, before Orji Okwonkwo added another in the second half, leaving the Red Bulls well-beaten and score-less in their final two regular-season games.

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In the first of the regular-season Union/Red Bulls match-ups, the Union came back from 2-0 down at halftime to win 3-2 in what was a thrilling afternoon in Chester, with goals from Jamiro and Ilsinho (2).  The 2-0 win for New York at the Red Bull Arena in the reverse fixture was an equally tight affair with the Red Bulls’ slender 32nd-minute lead – given to then by Tom Barlow – only being added to by a 96th-minute clincher from Daniel Royer.

Head-to-Head Stats

Philadelphia Union
New York Red Bulls
16 / 34 Number of wins / Games played 14 / 34
11 Number of losses 14
7 Number of draws 6
58 Goals scored 53
50 Goals conceded 51
362 / 172 Total shots / Shots on target 324 / 159
388 Fouls committed 403
326 Fouls suffered 431
6-1 (vs New England) Biggest win 4-0 (vs Real Salt Lake)
4-0 (vs Salt Lake/Montreal) Heaviest loss 4-0 (vs Houston Dynamo)

The head-to-head stats point to a Union victory at almost every turn – more wins, fewer defeats, more goals scored, fewer conceded and even their biggest win is bigger than the Red Bulls’ – but in terms of the playoffs, the significant stat of goals conceded sees them separated by just one.

Fine Margins Will Be Crucial

In knockout soccer, games can turn on the finest of margins and with neither defense being rock-solid, this one is on a knife-edge. With Union losing three of their last four regular-season games, the confidence may well be a little fragile and an early goal for New York could really set this one up to be a surprise away win, especially with their high-press, high energy physical style being suited to ‘sudden-death’ soccer.

Union will desperately be hoping that leading scorer Kacper Przybylko is sufficiently fit and healthy to play, while Red Bulls’ coach Chris Armas appears to have a full squad to pick from.


Armas has spoken this week of how little pressure his team is under and how all the expectation is on the Union. He will be looking to use this to his team’s advantage with few expecting the 2018 Supporters’ Shield winners to make it deep into the playoffs. This approach could just work and +150 for the Red Bulls to advance represents decent value.

The winner of this game will face either Atlanta United or New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 24 at 7:30 pm EST.

My pick: New York Red Bulls to advance (+150)

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