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Match report: Union 0-2 Red Bulls

Photo: Michael Long

For the second time in 2012, Kenny Cooper proved a Union killer, scoring both goals as the New York Red Bulls emerged comfortable 2-0 winners over the Union on Saturday afternoon in Harrison, N.J.

Cooper would not need the late game heroics that earned New York the 3-2 comeback win May 13 at PPL Park, as the Union rarely threatened New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette’s net on Saturday and struggled to create chances in the final third. and New York’s attacking trio of Cooper, Thierry Henry and former Union star Sebastien Le Toux caused problems for the Union defense all game.

After sending his side into the halftime break with 1-0 lead from a towering header, Cooper doubled the Red Bulls advantage with another header early in the second half. The Union threw numbers forward in the closing stages, but with the damage already done, their winning streak was halted at three.

First Half

Traveling north to Red Bull Arena, where the home side were undefeated entering the match, coach John Hackworth was unafraid to play an attacking lineup, with Lionard Pajoy returning to the starting lineup for the absent Freddy Adu. Pajoy joined Jack McInerney and Josue Martinez to form an aggressive front three, while Michael Farfan returned from a groin strain to take his place at midfield alongside Michael Lahoud and Brian Carroll.

Eager to control the ball and limit New York’s chances, the Union began brightly, knocking the ball around the midfield, with Michael Farfan the early catalyst. Probing for early chances proved unsuccessful, though, and the Red Bulls were quick to attack on the counter.

Jack McInerney nearly took advantage of the New York defense’s high line, but twice the service to the striker was delayed, playing him into an offside position.

In the 8th minute, Cooper had alarm bells ringing when he bulldozed through Amobi Okugo, who was fortunate to see Carlos Valdes force Cooper into a weak pass that Okugo recovered and cleared.

At the other end, Sheanon Williams’ swerving service was flicked towards the back post by McInerney, but Pajoy was unable to track it down and manage a shot on goal.

Martinez was next to get involved in the attack. First cutting in a cross that eluded Pajoy, Martinez took the next chance himself, electing to shoot from the next build, albeit weakly.

With the Union pressing bodies forward and Lahoud and Carroll pulled from their central positions to cover the numbers coming at them, New York began to find space in the center of the pitch. In the 20th minute, Joel Lindpere had time to slip in Cooper. Squaring himself, Zac MacMath parried Cooper’s blast, and the Union keeper was relieved to see Le Toux sky the rebound over the crossbar.

The Union looked to build, again through Michael Farfan, whose combination play with Martinez left the Costa Rican international the chance to find Pajoy over the top. Pajoy, under the close attention of debutante Jonathan Borrajo, failed to get power behind his turning shot, which was easily claimed by Gaudette.

After a back and forth first quarter of the match, the Red Bulls were beginning to find consistent space to attack, with Henry, Le Toux and Lindpere all dropping deep to receive the ball.

But just when the Red Bulls seemed to be seizing control, the Union finally found a way in behind Wilman Conde, Markus Holgersson and the Red Bulls defense. In the 40th minute, Michael Farfan spotted the advancing run of Martinez up the left flank. Threading the needle between Holgersson and Borrajo, Martinez had a free run on Gaudette but saw his close range effort denied by the Red Bulls keeper.

Racing the other way, Cooper found space in behind the Union defense, but Gabriel Farfan tracked back to slide the ball away from Cooper at the last moment.

Despite the Union chance, New York were now firmly on the front foot and Valdes was called on to save the day minutes later. Reacting quickest to Borrajo’s near-post service to New York’s big target man, Valdes got just enough of the ball to put it behind for a corner.

But Cooper was finding space inside the Union box and a minute later, Connor Lade found him. Slipping in between Okugo and Gabe Farfan, Cooper rose high to power his header beyond a helpless MacMath, sending the home side into the dressing room up a goal.

Second Half

Needing a goal to get back into the contest, the Union tried to reassert themselves on the ball, but found themselves in a battle through the middle of the park in the opening minutes of the second half. Pajoy continued to struggle to find his teammates. After conceding possession following some fancy footwork, he became the first to go into referee Hilario Grajeda’s notebook after his high elbow caught Roy Miller.

On the other side of the pitch, Gabriel Farfan continued to give Borrajo a rough first match, twice shaking the defender off and racing along the end line. With numbers streaming into the box, Farfan inexplicably tumbled to the ground, earning the fullback a yellow card for simulation, which he did not protest.

In the 58th minute, New York got their insurance goal, but not after some controversy at the other end.

McInerney had found space behind Borrajo, yet when the ball was played over the top, the New York fullback grasped hold of McInerney’s jersey, pulling him back and preventing the Union striker from racing in on a breakaway. It could have been a caution or worse, yet Grajeda surprisingly allowed play to continue. Cooper bagged his brace the following play.

Connor Lade found Thierry Henry on the left flank and the Red Bulls captain curled his cross in to the streaking Cooper. Again finding space in front of MacMath, this time between Valdes and Gabe Farfan, Cooper made no mistake. It was the worst possible turn of fortunes for the Union who were suddenly staring down a two-goal deficit.

Substitute Antoine Hoppenot again provided an attacking spark for the Union, challenging the New York defense, but too often, he found the box empty when he looked up for passing options.

The Union’s other two substitutes, Gabriel Gomez and Roger Torres, tried to drive the attack forward, but on a night where chemistry was lacking, the Union continued to run out of ideas in the final third. Hoppenot seemed to be getting the better of Conde and twice appeared to be hauled back by his shirt after he had beaten his man, but he could only look on in exasperation when play was waved on.

The field stretched, the Red Bulls looked to put the match away on the counter attack, but the Union’s scrambling defense held firm. In the 85th minute, Thierry Henry had the ball in the net after Le Toux’s dummy played him in, but the goal was called back for offsides.

The Union continued to probe, but lacked the creativity to break down the well organized Red Bulls, with Gomez resorting to trying his luck from distance, firing just wide in the 87th minute.

Moments later, MacMath had to be brave when Henry played Le Toux in against his former teammate. Diving at the Frenchman’s feet, MacMath smartly claimed the ball before quickly distributing up field to reignite the attack.

In the closing seconds, the Union looked to have pulled back a consolation goal when Hoppenot slid in to tap home Sheanon Williams back post drive. But the assistant referee erroneously called the goal back, incorrectly deeming Hoppenot to have played the ball from and offsides position.

Apart from Wednesday’s trip to PPL Park to watch Carlos Valdes represent Philadelphia in the MLS All Star Game, the Union will have no midweek fixture for the first time in over a month. They will regroup before facing New England Revolution on Sunday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud (Gabriel Gomez ‘60), Michael Farfan; Lionard Pajoy (Roger Torres ’72), Jack McInerney, Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot ’60)
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Keon Daniel, Chris Albright, Ray Gaddis

New York Red Bulls
Bill Gaudette; Roy Miller, Markus Holgersson, Wilman Conde, Brandon Barklage (Jonathan Borrajo ’16); Dax McCarty, Connor Lade, Joel Lindpere (Mehdi Ballouchy ’87); Sebastien Le Toux, Kenny Cooper, Thierry Henry
Unused substitutes: Jeremy Vuolo, Jhonny Arteaga, Tyler Ruthven, Stephen Keel, Victor Palsson

Scoring Summary
43 – NYRB: Cooper (Lade, Lindpere)
58 – NYRB: Cooper (Henry)

Discipline Summary
49 – PHI: Pajoy (caution)
54 – PHI: G. Farfan (caution)
62 – NYRB: Cooper (caution)
90 – PHI: Hoppenot (caution)

Hilario Grajeda


  1. williams was awful.

  2. We need to keep our feet fellas. That’s the third yellow for simulation. Obviously we won’t get a penalty unless we more than earn it.

    • Yeah, but I think it’s the first one that was deserved for simulation, but you are right, we aren’t going to get the call so stay up

  3. James Korman says:

    Tough loss. Not a good game. Where was the offense? Our midfielders seemed to do a decent job keeping possession but our forwards had a tough time penetrating rbny’s D. Is Freddy Adu injured? Is Lahoud officially the starter now over Gomez?

    Hate to say it but rbny’s attack is pretty potent with Cooper, LeToux, and Thierry Henry. Seba should be pretty psyched.

    Is it just me or does Kenny Cooper look like Sebastien LeToux on steroids? I swear they could be brothers.

    • Yeah no kidding! I was watching on a low-quality internet stream and I kept thinking that LeToux started juicing in Canada.

    • It should be as thats like 9 million dollars in players. Thats like the combined cost of the union, colombus, and the revs.

  4. Philly Cheese says:

    Ability to bounce back will be tested next week. If service is slow, Jack Mac has to be smart enough to time his runs better. Maturity from young guns has to improve. Their enthusiasm and energy must be channeled better. They are years from getting calls that Donovan and other master floppers are getting. Possession was good, but no one is thinking more than one pass at a time.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Referee’s don’t lose games, but how about training sideline flag wavers to get themselves in position to make accurate calls. Would love a review of positioning of sideline boys on all of their offsides calls, especially when Hoppenot was Inaccurately called offsides. Maybe they need some conditioning so they are in game shape for running sidelines.

  5. JediLos117 says:

    Tough to find a positive from yesterday’s match…even Okugo looked weak at CB.

    • The Black Hand says:

      He just doesn’t have the size to fend off sizable strikers. I think Soumare will remedy that, hopefully with a swap of Okugo for Carroll.

  6. Mario in QT says:

    We need more height in the back. G Farfan looked like a smurf next to Cooper. The worst part is we now how to put up with calls for Cooper on the MNT. We made him look allot better than he is.

    • cooper is good, but when you have someone thats half his size defending him you give him the go ahead.. why not throw Albright back there to plug things up, at least for a little in the 1st half and try and take cooper out of the game..

  7. I expected a loss, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
    They kept good possession. I very much liked that part of the game. However, they once again had no offensive movement or creativity.
    Garfan took Adu’s role. Dancing around, and diving in the box. The guy needs to get a hair cut and keep his cool.
    MacInerny was invisible against NY’s big CB(s).
    Williams has not gotten his speed or touch back since the injury.
    Valdez is our defense. The guy is the only good trade that has come out of the “Nowak era.” WIth that said, we need a big CB back there that can keep guys like Cooper away from the net. Hopefully, the new guy can be game fit soon.
    Not to keep talking about it, but, we need some DP players up top. Clinical finishers.
    Also if we are going to play crosses into into the box more than one or two people need to be rushing into the box. Otherwise, its pointless.

  8. Oh,

    PS. Martinez, should have scored but took one touch too many. Again, stuff that comes with experience.

  9. A rough day for sure. New York are in good form. Credit to them.

  10. MikeRSoccer says:

    I was at the game. First trip to Red Bull Arena and I have to say the Stadium is very nice, but everything else about the location and the game was terrible. No porta potties anywhere close to the central gravel parking lot that I parked in directly in front of the stadium. The lot did not use normal gravel though. It was incredibly fine gravel and multiple cars around me got stuck, had tires spinning and shot gravel into other cars. I had to leave my Accord in 1st just to get out of the parking lot.

    On to the game. Williams and Valdes each had their worst games in a Union jersey ever. Simply horrendous. Williams seemed hungover. He appeared apathetic to the game, showed no hustle and looked to be in a general daze. How he was allowed to stay in the game for the full 90 is beyond comprehension. I am assuming it was due to fatigue, but he appeared to be so tired that he honestly should have asked to be taken off the field. Valdes not only gave the ball away in the lead up to the second goal, but then he decided not to jump or even attempt to deflect the ball away from Cooper. Lahoud and Martinez were atrocious. People have said that Lopez is the worst signing in Union history. Lahoud was the worst transaction in club history. Danny Califf and allocation money for a player who is extremely athletic, but has the soccer talent of an amateur high school player. The only players on the field that showed up to play were Okugo, BC and Garfan.

    • disagree with you entirely about valdes and i though okugo was only soso. martinez wasn’t specially but he showed he’s picking it up some, definitely wouldn’t call his game terrible. agree with you about williams though.

      • valdes was completely responsible for the second goal. he needs to stop dribbling upfield.

      • ha. valdes is no more at fault for that than okugo for the first. you’re right in that he should have done better with that ball but did you notice williams not get back? okugo get beat to the ball by le toux? both carroll and williams fail to pick up henry before the cross? garfan also not pick up cooper(macmath not sort his defense?) plenty of blame across the defense on the 2nd. while valdes was up field carroll was in support so it’s not like he left a gaping hole.

  11. Okugo looked very sharp with the ball at his feet and while passing. Very excited for him to replace Carroll or Lahoud. Martinez is awful at everything except running. Would personally like to see this lineup upon Soumare’s return.

    Williams Soumare Valdes Garfan
    Okugo Gomez Farfan (CAM)
    Pajoy Mac Adu (with Hop coming on at 60)

    • James Korman says:

      Agree 100% on your lineup.

    • PhillyHotSpur says:

      I dig that line-up and formation, but what are the chances Carroll gets benched ??

      Overall, not a terrible showing at the NYRB……We were strong in possession and plenty of chances in the first half. JackMac was terrible w/ his constant offsides and poor passing via possession. In one instance, Williams had the throw in and JackMac got behind the defense……the throw-in ended up going off his head………WTF

      Okugo had his first rough game as he lost Cooper on both goals but he is still a work-in-progress and height will be an issue..

      Agreed that we need a technical striker up front…….But, all and all, that was a much improved performance vs last year’s trip to NYRB where they got dominated

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