Sometimes things go your way, and other times they all go wrong. For the Philadelphia Union, this was one of those nights where things did not go their way. After a rough start where the Red Bulls were all out of starts, they played what has to be considered their best game of the season en route to a 2-1 victory over the Union.
The first half provided us with an entertaining and wide open affair. NYRB were first on the attack with chances that just missed culminating with a Thierry Henry bicycle kick. Henry dared to Zlatan, and it all went wrong for him. He gifted the Union a goal kick. A couple minutes later the Union had their best chance of the half. Maidana made a nice run down the right hand side and played an excellent ball to Andrew Wenger but Wenger's poor run combined with his poor finish led to an easy save for Luis Robles.
The first half also saw some great defense from Amobi Okugo, who did a tremendous job of taking angles away and making well-timed tackles in the box. Contrast this to Aaron Wheeler who frequently appeared lost in the central defense, and the talent difference is clear.
The union's last chance of the half came in the 42nd minute when the Union were gifted a free kick from dangerous territory but they could only watch as Maidana's attempt curled on goal into the waiting arms of a diving Robles.
The second half began with both teams still goalless. The Union had the first opportunity of the half with Wenger successfully dancing around Robles in the 18-yard box but stuck at a tight angle he opted to shoot it (likely) not seeing the wide open Fernandes in front of goal and the ball could only travel into the side-netting for a goal kick. It was a golden opportunity gone begging and one the Union would shortly look back on with regret.
And indeed, in the 57th minute, it was time for regret. Following a defensive lapse from Sebastien Le Toux, Roy Miller found a wide open Henry in the box who launched it past MacMath and into the open net for a 1-0 lead. The Le Toux lapse precipitated an entire defensive collapse that ultimately left Henry alone and unmarked, and it became too easy for New York to score.
Things went from bad to worse for the Union in the 67th minute. An Eric Alexander cross found rising Lloyd Sam and second half substitute Tim Cahill in the box. While things could have gone wrong for NYRB and the two could have collided or a miscommunication could have derailed efforts, things went wrong for the Union instead and the ball found the head of Sam who directed it on goal past MacMath who found himself helplessly walking to the spot in the net the ball was headed.
Shortly following a Hackworth double sub that saw him bring on Antoine Hoppenot for Maidana and confusingly bringing on Michael Lahoud for Leo Fernandes*, the Union caught a break. A scramble for the ball in the Red Bull box ultimately led to Ibrahim Sekagya attempting the world's worst volleyball save. Ricardo Salazar instantly showed Sekagya a deserved red card and the Union were rewarded their first penalty kick since the 2012 season. Le Toux stepped up to the spot and despite not taking it perfectly, still found a way to tuck the penalty kick underneath Robles to bring the Union within one.
*Need a come back? Excellent! Never a better time then to substitute out a midfielder with some attacking prowess for one with none! For this and other excellent managerial tips please dial 1-800-DEAR-RAFA!
That would ultimately be it, though. The Union would not mount another credible threat toward goal, and the Union left Red Bull Arena once again without a win and once again, disappointed.
There will not be any rest for the weary though as the Union will play once again this Saturday afternoon. They will return home and face Houston Dynamo in what figures to be a pivotal battle of teams trying to rescue themselves after a slew of poor results.