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The first half penalty against NYCFC that wasn’t

Ben Sweat got away with what looked like a clear penalty on a sliding challenge on Alejandro Bedoya

MLS: Knockout Round-Philadelphia Union at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC deserved to win the franchise’s first playoff game Wednesday night. They rattled Philadelphia Union defense early and capitalized on mistakes to take a 2-0 lead inside a half hour.

It was a similar start — minus an own goal — that NYC had three days later in the season finale and the Union nearly responded in a similar fashion to cut the lead in half in the 34th minute when captain Alejandro Bedoya raced into the box onto a pass from Keegan Rosenberry and found Warren Creavalle in a good spot in front of goal.

Creavalle scuffed his shot wide of the target, but Bedoya was in a heap at that point. NYCFC left back Ben Sweat — a familiar name to Reading United fans — slid in and took Bedoya out just as he was making the pass.

The shouts for a penalty and pleading for a video assistant review went were futile as play continued and instead of lining up for a spot kick to cut the deficit to 2-1, the Union were still staring at a two-goal deficit, which they carried into the locker room.

If a penalty is called there, the kick is converted and Sweat is sent off or shown a yellow card for the challenge, the remaining hour of the match plays out much differently.

That’s not to say the Union would have deserved the win or that they would have found an equalizer, but down 2-1 and up a man with an hour to play would have been a much easier path to advancing than what ended up being a 3-1 loss thanks only to a Cory Burke consolation goal late.

Bedoya, never one to back down from speaking his mind, weighed in on the no-call Thursday morning on Twitter.

Officiating and field conditions, even as ridiculous as the tiny Yankee Stadium field NYCFC calls home, are never a valid excuse for losing a game. The Union were outplayed twice in a span of three days and ended up dropping their final three games to New York rivals, but it’s hard not to look to that moment in the 34th minute as the play that sank the Union’s playoff hopes.