The Philadelphia Union fell 2-1 on the road on Saturday afternoon against the New York Red Bulls. Despite the Union getting a goal from Conor Casey, the New York Red Bulls would dominate the midfield throughout the game and capitalize on Union defensive breakdowns in order to defeat the Union for the 5th straight time at Red Bull Arena.
The first half was controlled more or less by the New York Red Bulls. The Union appeared content to concede possession to New York Red Bulls in order to play a counter-attacking game featuring long balls.
The long ball game would rarely end up successful for the Union as the bulk of the chances in the first half went to the New York Red Bulls, and really, the Union were fortunate their New York rivals were unable to put one in the back of the net during the first 45. The two biggest chances for the New York Red Bulls came in the 22nd minute when Peguy Luyindula fired a shot just wide of MacMath's goal and in the 41st minute, when Jonathan Steele inexplicably chipped a shot over the bar when faced with a wide open net and Zac MacMath alone in no man's land. In related news, MacMath is working on purchasing expensive real estate in No Man's Land. He really likes it there.
Throughout the first half, the New York Red Bulls easily dealt with any scoring chance the Union might offer. The long balls and balls over the top to Jack McInerney and Sebastien Le Toux were not working, and New York were playing solid defense that did not allow this tactic from Hackworth to succeed.
The second half started with New York Red Bulls continuing to control midfield and play. In the 55th minute, the home side would be rewarded with a Dax McCarty goal that came when McCarty stuck his foot out and said foot connected with a cross coming into the box giving the ball some wicked spin. This fooled MacMath completely and the ball ricocheted off the post and in the net. The goal itself was flukey in nature but based off the run of play the lead was deserved for New York Red Bulls.
In the 59th minute, the Red Bulls made a vital sub, taking out Tim Cahill and bringing in Thierry Henry, who would prove to be a difference maker. But not before the Union would make the game interesting. Subbing out Danny Cruz and Sebastien Le Toux for Antoine Hoppenot and Conor Casey, the Union would score a goal one minute later in the 63rd minute.
Sheanon Williams sent a long throw in that was headed by Conor Casey who steered the ball into the back of the net and out of nowhere, the Union were level.
However, New York Red Bulls would soon begin to assert their authority. A 70th minute cross from Heath Pearce just missed the outstretched foot of Henry for what would have surely been a goal had he connected. In the 76th minute, Henry attempted a cheeky bicycle kick that despite missing the net, drew the ooohs and aahs of fans and commentators alike.
The pressure would not relent though, and just a couple minutes after Hackworth made a defensive oriented substitution taking off Jack McInerney for Keon Daniel, Henry found himself unmarked in the box and able to slot home the game-winning goal with ease. Amobi Okugo caught himself way out of position, and despite an otherwise fairly solid performance, was made to look a fool on the game-winner.
The Union's best opportunity to equalize came in stoppage time when a ball was launched in the box. Conor Casey and Luis Robles collided as they were both chasing the ball in the air. The collision allowed the ball to fall in and Antoine Hoppenot had netted what appeared to be an equalizer, but the official had ruled that Casey fouled the keeper and the goal was subsequently waved off. While calling that a foul and no goal was likely the correct call, the official went a little over the top in issuing Casey a yellow card for a collision on what was essentially a 50-50 ball.
Robles was injured on the play and needed a few minutes to recover, but Robles turned out to be all right and the Union were unable to capitalize on the added stoppage time, thus ensuring the New York Red Bulls walked away from Red Bull Arena deserved 2-1 winners over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon.
Next up for the Union is a road encounter with the Columbus Crew next Saturday.