Time: 5:08 p.m. EDT
Venue: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
TV: ESPN (Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman, starting after this afternoon's Confederations Cup games conclude)
This is a chance for a young team, a club that I think we constantly scrap even within our own fan base for the respect that I think we deserve a lot more of.
- Union manager John Hackworth this past Wednesday
More info on next four Union games: Philly hasn't beat NY since 2011, also hasn't beaten RSL or Dallas since joining Major League Soccer
— Kevin Kinkead (@PhilUnionKevinK) June 19, 2013
If John Hackworth and the Philadelphia Union want the respect they think they deserve, today is a chance to earn it.
The Union have Major League Soccer's biggest stage to themselves this evening, with a nationally-televised showdown against one of their chief rivals. Hackworth's players are as rested as they will ever be, having not played a game of consequence since the U.S. Open Cup loss at D.C. United on June 12. And they are generally healthy, with Kléberson's right quadriceps strain the only major concern.
In addition, New York will be without three key players. Tim Cahill has an injury and a personal matter to deal with back home in Australia, while defender Jámison Olave and midfielder Juninho Pernambucano are suspended.
I have been accused a few times of being overly cynical about the Union. I would be happy to be optimistic about them if I felt they were really playing to their full potential. I would certainly take a more positive view of things if their hold on one of the Eastern Conference's playoff places was less tenuous.
But go back to those tweets from the always-informative Kevin Kinkead of KYW TV. They say so much about the Union's performances this year - and why the team hasn't earned the respect that Hackworth wants.
Including today, six of the Union's next seven games are against teams in playoff places: home to New York, Dallas and Portland, and at Houston, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver.
It is unquestionably their most difficult stretch of the season. Conveniently, it ends right before the MLS All-Star game and the Union's friendly against Stoke City. And there's a very real chance the Union will be without star forward Jack McInerney for much of next month if he makes the U.S. national team's Gold Cup squad.
Between now and the end of July, I think we'll get a pretty good idea of whether the Union are a playoff-caliber team.
It's my opinion - and I know many of you feel the same way - that the Union have a lot to prove. Their time to do so is now.
Follow along below for live updates from the press box. If you're on a mobile device, click here.
Philadelphia Union (4-1-3-2, left to right)
Goalkeeper: Zac MacMath
Defenders: Raymon Gaddis, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams
Midfielders: Brian Carroll; Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel, Sébastien Le Toux
Forwards: Conor Casey, Jack McInerney
Bench: GK Chris Konopka; D Matt Kassel; Ms Michael Farfan, Leo Fernandes, Roger Torres; Fs Antoine Hoppenot, Aaron Wheeler
New York Red Bulls (4-4-2, left to right)
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles
Defenders: Roy Miller, Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Brandon Barklage
Midfielders: Jonny Steele, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander, Lloyd Sam
Forwards: Thierry Henry, Peguy Luyindula
Bench: GK Ryan Meara; Ds Koskuke Kimura, Connor Lade; M Michael Bustamante; Fs Ruben Bover, Andre Akpan, Fabián Espíndola
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Linesmen: Kermit Quisenberry (bench side), Corey Parker (far side)
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez