The Philadelphia Union are finally emerging from a run of Chivas USA terribleness with yet another much-needed win, this time on the road at Red Bull Arena for a franchise first. A pair of second half goals from Vincent Nogueira and C.J. Sapong are what lifted the Union to their second straight victory giving them their first win streak of the 2015 season.
Despite not conceding a goal in the first 45 minutes, the Union had themselves a rough first half. Their only attacking chance came as a result of a Roy Miller turnover getting picked up by Conor Casey and Casey outletting a pass to Cristian Maidana who had a near breakaway. Unfortunately for the Union though, Maidana's shot was stopped by Luis Robles.
The Union defense were routinely picked on in the first half by the New York Red Bulls attack, and were fortunately to get bailed out a couple times by the Red Bulls hitting the post. Set up by Sacha Kljestan, Felipe's shot from the top of the box got wood and Mike Grella from a tough angle got a ball past Brian Sylvestre as well only to be halted by the woodwork.
No one in the Union defense looked particularly strong, but Fabinho had an almost major gaffe and Ethan White was a very noticeable liability. Fabinho had an incident where he pulled Lloyd Sam down in the box and though FS1 never showed a replay of the incident, it certainly appeared from the live shot as if a penalty could have been warranted. Credit to Fabinho, though, the past two games may have been his best two in a Union uniform. White meanwhile had numerous encounters with Grella, all of which Grella got the better of. When White goes to sleep tonight, he'll dream of all everything Grella did to him on the pitch for the night is dark and full of terrors.
It seemed as if the Union were in for a bit of a letdown as the second half began, but they soon reversed course in the 57th minute. While stumbling along, Andrew Wenger, successfully laid the ball off for Maidana and Maidana was able to get a shot off toward goal. Even more fortunately, Maidana's shot was re-directed beautifully by Nogueira in front of goal for an unstoppable finish. The Union had themselves a shock 1-0 lead on the road, and they would only add to it.
The Union are not always known for beautiful soccer. Even when they experience success, they seemingly do not produce beauties from the run of play, but that's exactly what they did to build up to their second goal. Of all things, it was a give-and-go between Fabinho and Maidana, fooling Karl Ouimette and allowing Fabinho to complete a simple pass in the box to C.J. Sapong who slotted in the open net goal putting the Union up 2-0.
Though NYRB enjoyed bountiful possession for the final 28 minutes, they struggled to come up with a quality chance. Their best opportunity came when a blocked Kljestan shot crawled its way to Bradley Wright-Phillips who managed to get a sliding shot on target only to be denied by a nice save from Sylvestre.
It was not the most action-packed of games, but the Union gladly left Red Bull Arena proud owners of a 2-0 win and their first win at Red Bull Arena in franchise history. The Union are now in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, only one point behind 6th place Orlando City and the last playoff spot. The bad news for the Union in that with the exception of 2nd place New England Revolution, everyone has played less games than the Union. The standings look good now, but the Union are 9th in the conference in points per game and still have some serious ground to make up if they want to contend for a playoff spot in 2015.
Despite beating D.C. United and New York Red Bulls in back-to-back weeks, life for the Union will not get any easier when they once again play United, but this time the game will be at the hellhole better known as RFK Stadium. Another three points will be needed if the Union want to make an impact in the standings this year.