Union match reports

Match report: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Michael Long

A late Thierry Henry goal was enough to see New York defeat the Union 2-1  Saturday at Red Bull Arena.

All the goals came after halftime, with Dax McCarthy deflecting in a Jonathan Steele cross in the 55th minute and Conor Casey opening his Union account shortly after that, nodding in a Sheanon Williams long throw-in.

The Union were looking for their first ever win at Red Bull Arena and looked to have done enough to at least earn a point, but Henry’s introduction to the game in the 60th minute proved to be the deciding factor. The Frenchman came close twice before finally beating Zac MacMath in the 82nd minute.

First half

The Union only made one change from the team that won their last league game, on March 16 against New England,with Michael Lahoud slotting in for Keon Daniel, who had just returned from international duty with Trinidad and Tobago.

Philadelphia started the game strongly and had the earliest chances in the match. Sheanon Williams put a good ball to the far post from a short corner kick play that NY goalkeeper Luis Robles had to punch away in the third minute. Two minutes later Amobi Okugo headed just wide from a Sebastien Le Toux free kick.

The Red Bulls came into the game as the half wore on and found much of their success attacking down the left through Jonathan Steele and Heath Pearce. Danny Cruz failed to give Sheanon Williams much help on the Union’s right wing, and both Steele and Pearce found plenty of space to fire in crosses and advance into the Union’s final third.

In the 21st minute, Steele found space behind Sheanon Williams and was picked out by a perfect Juninho cross-field ball. Steele held the ball to wait for help and eventually found Tim Cahill at the top of the Union box, but the Australian fired his shot just wide of MacMath’s goal.

The Union’s best move of the first half came in the 32nd minute when Michael Farfan was able to control a bouncing ball in the center circle, beat a couple of Red Bulls defenders, and then serve a beautiful 40-yard ball to Jack McInerney. The young forward cushioned the ball into the path of Sebastien Le Toux, but his shot was blocked at the edge of the New York box.

That chance was followed immediately by New York’s best chance of the half when Juninho played a ball behind the Union backline for Péguy Luyindula to run onto. Luyindula was able to get to the end line and drop a pass back to Jonny Steele, who fired a hard shot just over the crossbar from 16 yards.

Second half

The Red Bulls started the second half brightly, and an early Juninho free kick had to be tipped over the crossbar by Zac MacMath. The opening goal came in the 55th minute, with Dax McCarty netting his first goal of the season.

The Red Bulls again attacked down the left side through Steele. Steele’s low cross was met by McCarty 16 yards out, and the midfielder somehow hit the ball with the outside of his right boot and pinged it off the far post and into the net, leaving MacMath with no chance.

The Union would respond with a double substitution. Antoine Hoppenot and Conor Casey joined the fray with Cruz and Le Toux giving way.

Casey would reward his coach almost immediately, evening up the score in the 63rd minute. A traditional Sheanon Williams long throw from the right was easily headed in at the near post by Casey, who completely lost marker Markus Holgersson. Casey said after the match, “I don’t think we’ve ever practiced it. I think the plan was always for me to come and flick it on, but I found myself pretty open and pretty close to goal so I just went for it.”

The Union would put more pressure on the Red Bulls goal shortly after that. Michael Farfan picked out Antoine Hoppenot streaking down the right wing with a good ball, but the speedy Hoppenot could only win a corner as he was caught from behind by the retreating New York defense. Okugo would rise highest from the corner, but his header was straight at Robles and saved easily.

After that, a Henry winner began to look more and more likely. He was almost able to turn in Pearce’s cross from the left, but the ball skidded across the goal and just wide of the far post.

After that, it was a spectacular overheard effort that missed hitting the target by mere inches after Henry had ghosted a run behind a stationary Williams.

MacMath would make a great save on Steele in the 80th minute when the winger was played in behind the Union defense. But the young keeper had no chance at Henry’s winner a minute later.

Casey appeared to be fouled just inside the Union half as Pearce won the ball from him, but the referee was unmoved and allowed play to continue. Pearce advanced the ball down the left wing to Luyindula, who had moved behind Williams, and the striker then pushed the ball toward the corner. Jeff Parke tried to close down the space, but Lyuindula was able to float a cross into Henry with Okugo caught yards away from the striker. Henry’s first touch, as he settled the ball, was exquisite. His second touch was deadly, stroking the ball into far corner of the Union’s goal.

The Red Bulls retreated into a defensive shell to close out the game, and the Union were unable to create a clear chance. Casey would tangle with Robles with only minutes left on the clock, with the Union striker picking up a yellow card for the hard collision.

The loss leaves the Union 0-4-0 all time in league play on the road to New York and snaps their two-game winning streak. They will try to rebound next Saturday on the road in Columbus. Announced attendance was 15, 824, with that number seeming generous as large portions of the upper bowl of the arena contained no fans at all.

New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles, Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave, Heath Pearce, Kosuke Kimura, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Lloyd Sam, 73′), Juninho, Jonathan Steele, Tim Cahill (Thierry Henry, 59′), Péguy Luyindula

Philadelphia Union
Zach MacMath, Raymon Gaddis, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams, Briam Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot, 61′), Sebastien Le Toux Conor Casey, 61′), Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel, 80′)

Scoring Summary
55 – NY: McCarty (Steele)
63 – PHI: Casey (Williams)
81 – NY: Henry (Luyindula)

Discipline Summary
92- PHI: Casey (caution)

Match Info
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Attendance: 15,824

Match Stats

New York Red Bulls Philadelphia Union
16 Attempts on Goal 11
4 Shots on Target 2
9 Shots off Target 6
3 Blocked Shots 3
5 Corner Kicks 9
11 Fouls 14
20 Open Play Crosses 16
7 Offsides 4
0 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
44 Duels Won 31
58% Duels Won % 41%
480 Total Pass 309
83% Passing Accuracy % 74%
59.8% Possession 40.2%

51 Comments

  1. Richie the Limey says:

    I ask again… Why does Danny Cruz get to be a professional soccer player? And why the hell does he start?

    • Indeed; surely Mr. Cruz would have been better suited as a track & field athlete? Shame for Union fans that apparently no coach of his ever gave him such direction…

    • David Moscow says:

      He fits the definition of a Hack/Union professional: hustle, fast, hustle, no technical ability.

    • Good match. Here it comes — BUT, Cruz is nobody’s starter. Love his hustle however that is why Hoppenot is on the team as a sub late in the game to run down the opponents tired defense. Cruz should be deployed the same way. Hackworth needs to bring in someone who has the basic soccer skills to make plays. He may see himself in the Cruz/Hoppenot type player which isn’t necessarily a good thing and exposes his tunnel vision. I mentioned before that other than the SKC game the scheduled has been kind to the Union and disguised some weaknesses on the team and Hackworth’s game strategy. Does John Hackworth have the ability to manage in the MLS? Time will tell. We will see just how he uses Kleberson. This will show whether Hackworth can actually manage skilled players and take advantage of what they bring to the team, or if Hackworth is in over his head. Now Brian Caroll’s “uncharacteristic turnover” are becoming a regular occurrence. His back passes are getting ridiculous. He has been partly responsible for some glaring miscues in the midfield. MacMath needs to be more aggressive. He’s shown some improvement. I think he really needs that mentor on the team who can work with him and pressure him. Conor Casey is all that. I can’t wait to see him start. Does anyone think we’ll see Casey, Le Toux, Kleberson and McInerney on at the same time?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah he was really bad yesterday. I was told when he got here he was fast and could take guys on 1 on 1. As far as I can tell… he’s just fast.

    • Cruz sucks. Its almost criminal that Hackworth told Torres he would have to come into camp in great shape. Torres showed up and he was seen by most as the most dominant player in camp. And now hackjob plays Cruz while Torres sits.

      I wanted Nowak out more than anybody. But I am not sure this is upgrade.

  2. Disappointing loss. Liked what Casey provided after he came on and would like to see him starting. Marfan looks overmatched in the middle of the pitch…need to get him to a wider position. Will be interesting to see where/if Kleberson in.

  3. One point of clarification, Casey was being marked (not closely enough apparently) by Holgersson on his goal. After that, they put Olave on him for future set pieces.

    Typical performance from the Union. Any sort of possession breaks down whenever they try to move forward in a meaningful way which isn’t surprising when you look at the personnel on the pitch. No width and virtually no attack on the left side. Once Garfan is healthy, he needs to be put back at left back, Gaddis looks more & more uncomfortable at left back each week.

    While we have some good players in our side, we just don’t have enough difference makers on the pitch in midfield. No pace or ability to beat your marker with the ball at your feet. Marfan is very clever with the ball, but he’s not that type of player. He can help you maintain possession and play some nice through balls, but he’s not going to beat his man with a dribble forward.

    Cruz is a bit of a mystery to me as when he came into the league, he was a pacey and powerful player (like Hoppenot). However, he seems to have lost his speed. I’m not sure whether he’s not fit (has always looked heavy to me) or injuries caused by his style of play have finally caught up to him (no pun intended), but in any event, he no longer has that speed. Carroll and Lahoud are holding mids whose collective best skill is ball winning/recovery.

    Where this really manifests itself in is how our chances are generated. Jack Mac is quick with average speed, but it’s a huge difference if he has to make a 10 yd run forward vs a 20-25 yd one. On the latter, his marker can recover the lost ground which typical eliminates the chance.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really see a solution to this problem on the current roster. While we upgraded the striker position and Casey will be very helpful for us to maintain our attack further up the pitch, our midfield options are really limited. Having a player similar to Justin Mapp would be huge for us right now.

    • Here, here! Last year I was concerned about the Union relying too much on Cruz and Hoppenot. They can pinball all day but you still have to put foot to ball and make plays. I love Jack McInerney but he is not a go to guy the way this team is organized. As you said he is quick but not fast. He can be totally dominated if he becomes your singular option. He is a poacher and that is his value to the team. He needs to play off of his bigger,stronger teammates like Casey in order to play to his strengths. Casey can draw the coverage from Le Toux and McInerney. That makes the Union very dangerous. Right now strong teams can weather the Union storm and strike for a result over a 90 min game. I still think the Union should have tried Soumare with Parke and moved Okugo.Oh well we may never know if it could’ve worked. After Casey tied the game you knew what was coming. They allowed Henry to float right into their 3rd unmarked and it was lights out. The Redbulls adjusted to Casey. The Union had no answer to Henry.

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Thanks for the clarification on Holgersson, it has been fixed. The video wasn’t working when I wrote this last night and my notes were unclear.

    • JediLos117 says:

      “Unfortunately, I don’t really see a solution to this problem on the current roster…our midfield options are really limited.”
      .
      Yup…will Kleberson even help?

    • I’ve said it over and over, my problem isn’t that he put gaddis at LB per say, my problem is that he did it without letting the kid play the position all off season, he just through him to the wolves opening day and then doesn’t even bother to put someone at LM to help the kid cope with what will be a steep learning curve.And no one better say he put Keon over there one game, I’m not trying to hate on Keon, but he’s not going to give gaddis the support he needs.

      • Didn’t Gaddis play left back at times last year? It’s been an adjustment for him this year getting regular time at the position, but it’s not like he’s coming in cold. In fact, one of the matches that he played there last year was in Seattle and Keon was MF who was predominantly in front of him and the side did pretty well that day.

        My biggest issue with Gaddis is he’s just not comfortable using his left foot and he could have made better strides with that in his off-season training.

      • I would agree with you, but all I’m saying is he has played here every game this year, in my opinion ( obviously I’m not privey to what goes on behind scenes) hatch should have said ok you play RB well, I’m going to need you at LB so do nothing but work on that left foot and in preseason we will play you out left to get you used to it, the first part may have been said, but the second part definitely hasn’t happened.

  4. Great performance by both third division teams. Henry (who is that guy?!) did add some class to the game.
    /
    I would like to see what Casey has to offer with more playing time. Because we are pretty much playing a punting game. So, a big guy up front is very necessary.
    /
    Gaddis is not playing well in his defensive role. He has speed though, but it seems little else.

    • If any player would benefit from getting Loaned out to Harrisburg it would be Gaddis. He just needs to work on his game. I don’t know what his learning curve benefits by getting thrown to the wolves constantly. But to not start Gaddis we need someone to play left back and the only player on the Union sideline who could possibly fill in is Heather Mitts(I am open to her starting btw)

      • As everyone well knows, Hackworth never filled that position during off season. Here is the result of that omission.

      • He kindasortamaybe addressed the problem in the offseason. But he did it on the cheap and so when they didn’t pan out it was kind of left to red shirt ensign Gaddis get beamed down to lrft back and get killed by the Horta.

      • That is one impressive Trek reference. 🙂

  5. Would agree with the collective Cruz inclusion incredulity. Could count the number of positive plays he made on one hand, I think he is still fast but you can always tell what he’s doing. Brian Carroll had that SICK shoulder fake up the gut surge to a nice through ball, then he SUCKED for the rest of the game. Love how the announcers still think of him as the “best” player out there…and by love I mean despise. I’m moving into the Lahoud is alright faction, from the Lahoud is useless faction, nice volley. Not practical for the lone defensive mid but looks like our team has three solid right backs (trade please). To the calls for Casey to start…slow your roll. That goal was awesome and he and Hoppenot are two solid subs right now but Casey could not go 90 right now. Hopefully in a few weeks we can see the Jack Mac and Casey duo with a Hoppenot sub. Le Toux was not good yesterday, although corners were still pretty solid. Also everyone is talking about the class of Henry but is it possible that the switch to the 4-3-3 was what caused the sudden flurry of chances? Henry certainly provided the world class finish but are defense was all of the sudden way outnumbered.

  6. It ain’t just Cruz. Lahoud and Daniel are also walking paragons of mediocrity. I can’t believe we actually had Lahoud play wing for us all game. He is completely mediocre and uneventful at his NORMAL position, let along one that requires skill and dynamic play like left midfield.
    And Daniel coming in late instead of Torres while down a goal was pathetic. Is anyone surprised Daniel didn’t do anything? All these three players are nothing more than solid subs to a good MLS team. The fact that we rely on them shows us the mindset of this team and it coaches.

    • In truth I would have started Keon in that game. while yes we would have to contend with goofus Keon giving away possession and the like. We would also have the Gallant Keon show up with the perfectly weighted pass forward or anything going forward. Gallant Lahoud is only good for one powerful shot off target a game.

    • I agree with you. torres did great in preseason why is he not playing? I dont get it. lahoud is improving but there are still better players. and danny cruz has work ethic but no skill. and hackworth insists on starting them. Daniel is just inconsistent. I also wont soumare in center back and okugo as a midfielder. even a winger. hes fast and a good passer and a good header.

      • If you watched the PUMAS friendly, Torres played very very mediocre. Some were claiming that is was the younger, greener players around him. But Lahoud had a great game during that friendly – playing next to the same mf’s. I think that Torres is having trouble breaking the line-up because he isn’t impressing anyone at practice the other 6 days a week.

      • Gotta give torres more regular play in meaningful games with other starters. Certainly has to be a bteer option tan Cruz

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I watched the Pumas friendly. Torres didn’t play great. Not sure how you can extrapolate that one match and say that he doesn’t deserve playing time and Lahoud does. Lahoud was far below par against New York, in a league game. Until Torres is given any sort of a fair chance, he cannot be evaluated positively or negatively.

  7. A few thoughts on the game.

    I like the Sheanon Williams chucks the ball at Connor Casey’s big bald head strategy. We should employ that gambit more often.

    Our Midfield is a sucking chest wound.

    Okugo quietly had a bad game.

    Carrol loudly had a bad game.

    LeToux’s corners have become a highlight.

    If Thierry Henry was 50 i would still consider him for my team.

  8. Bad lineups. we need soumare. and we dont need danny cruz or lahoud.

    Heres the lineup we need…

    http://www.footballuser.com/formations/2013/03/676971_Philadelphia_Union.jpg

    • Josh for da U says:

      I like that lineup, with maybe Gabe in the back instead of Gaddis if he is healthy

    • Put Garfan on the left and Marfan on the right and you have me

      • Garfan is an abysmal LB. He is a better sub than anything. Gaddis is by far our best option. I would even go further to say that as of right now Gaddis, as inexperienced as he is, is a better LB than Garfan now.

      • I ment Garfan at LM, the farfans are the two best wingers we have, I understand the criticism at him, but when played there he could help Gaddis because he has a left foot, the only two others players with left feet aren’t really comfortable playing on the wing

  9. I agree with the concerns but I also think this was the best the team has played in ny. I think it was significant that le toux was subbed. I am anxious to see how our new player impacts our ability to play midfield. Would like to see a draw at least in Ohio.

  10. And this only makes me more upset that Hackworth screwed up the Soumare situation. By no means I am saying Soumare would have made a difference on the Henry goal, but the bottom line is that we know he was a top tier defender in the MLS.
    Okugo, for as long as his CB honeymoon has lasted, has top tier potential at Dmid, NOT CB. It’s a shame we are going to waste him at a position where he is not able to leave his mark on the game as often. He is going to be wasted making nice plays in our defensive third instead of pulling the strings in midfield and stopping attacks before they even get as far as our defensive third.
    And of course, throw in how badly Carrol has been and the Soumare situation damages this team even more.

  11. It is so easy to defend the Union. You drop your backs deep so LeToux and JackMac can’t get behind you, and you wait for the midfielders and outside backs to overcommit and then make a mistake with the ball.

  12. Kenso Josh says:

    I feel like you guys are a lil tough on the U. I mean, we started better, we has chances where a better touch and shot from our forwards would have made goals. We are a lil direct.

    Cruz I don’t like. Okugo shouldn’t have given Henry that much space. He should have been with him the way Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes where first together, smothering him with attention.

    You guys are wrong about Carroll, to me. I thought he pushed up and looked to pass more incisively. They beat us by going wide.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Carroll, again, epitomized our ineffective club. Defend him all you want. The truth is, he is no longer helping this club. Way too important of a role for such a mediocre (at his best) player. The quality of play is as bad, if not worse, than it has ever been.

  13. Philly Cheese says:

    Williams throw in to Casey was great. Cruz hustle is great. Carroll being the captain is great. Lahoud running around really fast is great. Daniels trying really hard is great. However……those players need to transfer one great characteristic into consistent play, touches, and other aspects of game, or,the Union are going to get a lot of close losses this year. Best 11 are still not on pitch to start or finish.

  14. To me when Henry enters the game it’s football 101*: he’s their best player; it’s completely obvious that they’re going to send the attack through him. It’s inexcusable to give him a foot of space at that point. The match summary is simple: two mediocre squads were playing out a 1-1 draw until one side brought in a quality player and the other side did not respond accordingly.

    *Cruyff: “Their medical staff have been working so hard to get him fit, that most players will want to pass the ball to him, to make it worth everybody’s while. So, we’ll know how they play. We’ll mark this guy well and win the game…”

  15. I think everyone is missing a fundamental fact here. The red bulls have better players. Henry is far from his peak but is still better than almost everyone in the league when he is in his element. He makes three times what our team makes. juninho and he won a world cup and played the full 90. We have what we can afford. Are we terrible no. But we dont have anyone with the skill and experience to be juninho, henry, etc.

    Managers can make a difference and player selection is key. I also agree we have not seen our best 11 on the pitch but on any given day the red bulls should beat us 5, tie us 4 and lose once in 10 games. my guess is our record dictates that.

    They are man city and we are fulham except we don’t have 25 years of academy structure to try and catch talent early and get it on the field 10 years later yet. Until this happens or we get some actual money flow we will always struggle in games like this.

    • JediLos117 says:

      This is in the end the horrible truth about the Union.
      .
      We are mediocre at best with mediocre players across the board…its really hard to single out one player more so than others.
      .
      Only so much a coach can do with average.

  16. Southside Johnny says:

    So nobody questions Daniel for Mac at 80′? WTF?

    • JediLos117 says:

      I feel like it was the right move. It was a play for the tie move. We went from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 (got us a goal) back to a 4-4-2 to preserve the tie…didnt work in the end but was IMO a good move.
      .
      What do you think? Keep #9 on?

      • Southside Johnny says:

        Yeah, I think you keep him in. If Daniel were solid defensively playing in front of a solid LB, ok, maybe. But there is defensive value keeping high pressure which dropped off immediately. The 4-3-3 helps keep their outside backs busy and Mac has scored a number of late goals. My beef is more player related than tactical.

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