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Match report: New York Red Bulls 2-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: 215pix

Philadelphia Union’s quest for the top seed just got a whole lot harder.

A first half howler gifted New York Red Bulls the lead at Red Bull Arena, and it was all the home side would need. The Union couldn’t crack a stellar defensive effort from New York, and the Red Bulls added a second goal on the final kick of the match to secure a 2-0 Sunday night victory in Harrison, NJ.

It was a potential playoff preview. If the season had ended before the start of the match, the Union would host New York in the first round of postseason action.

Both teams clinched different things after Saturday’s slate of MLS matches. For the Red Bulls, it was a playoff spot. For the Union, it was their first home playoff game since 2011.

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin featured an unchanged starting 11 from the side which drew 1-1 with Los Angeles FC last weekend. Conversely, Red Bull manager Chris Armas made only one change after his club’s 2-0 midweek road win over Portland Timbers. Daniel Royer, who leads the team in goals and assists, replaced Alex Muyl on the right wing.

It was Royer who produced the first real chance of the match in the 13th minute.

After some back and forth action, the Austrian found the ball just beyond the top of the box. With a quick turn, he fired a low, hard shot. A diving Andre Blake kept the Red Bulls from taking the early lead.

New York returned the favor in the 16th minute. A quick restart found Union winger Fafa Picault alone behind the home side’s back line. The attacker tried chipping the goalkeeper, but a remarkable save from Luis Robles prevented the tally. It did leave Robles out of his net. Picault centered the rebound to midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, but the captain’s shot was cleared off the line by center back Aaron Long.

Eventually it was the Red Bulls who opened the scoring in the 32nd minute through a gift from an unlikely source. A routine cross rolled in front of Blake, but the keeper couldn’t hold onto the ball. Instead, it was pushed into the center of the box. Forward Tom Barlow was there to knock home the sitter for his third goal of the season. For Blake, it was an absolute howler.

The marker provided a halftime lead for the Red Bulls. While it may have been slightly against the run of play, it defined a choppy, cagey half of play.

Curtin’s first move to try and level the score was to introduce winger Sergio Santos in place of Brenden Aaronson. Armas countered by bringing Designated Player Alejandro Romero Gamarra, more commonly called “Kaku”, into the match. Those moves were followed by the introduction of midfielder Ilsinho for the Union and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips for the Red Bulls.

The substitutions preceded New York dominating play. Only missed chances and an acrobatic Blake save on Kaku kept the game within reach for the visitors.

Necessity forced Philadelphia’s final change of the match. An injury forced center back Mark McKenzie off in the 75th minute. Curtin opted to play with a back three, bringing on attacking midfielder Marco Fabián in favor of a defender.

The Mexican international almost produced some magic for the Union. Fabián flicked a header toward forward Kacper Przybylko after a darting run through the Red Bull defense, but the Polish striker couldn’t quite position his body to make contact.

As the Union clawed for an equalizer that wouldn’t come, it was the Red Bulls who emphasized their play on the final kick of the match. Wright-Phillips led a two vs. one counter before slotting a pass to Royer. The winger made no mistake burying his 11th goal of the year.

The Union have a difficult turnaround as they continue their battle for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ll flight out to California and take on San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday night at 11:oo pm.

Three points
  • Scoreboard watch. While Atlanta United picked up a 3-1 over San Jose,  New York City FC drew 1-1 with FC Dallas. The Union still only trail the conference leaders by six points.
  • House of horrors. The Union will have to wait another year for their second win at Red Bull Arena. They’re now an abysmal 1-8-3 on the road against the Red Bulls.
  • A slog. It was an ugly affair, and the aesthetic opposite of the 1-1 draw with LAFC. Not exactly a great spectacle unless you’re a Red Bull supporter.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Mark McKenzie (Marco Fabián, 75′), Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin; Fafa Picault (Ilsinho, 59), Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Sergio Santos, 54′); Kacper Przybylko
Substitutes: Joe Bendik, Aurélien Collin, Robert James Allen, Marco Fabián, Anthony Fontana

New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles; Kyle Duncan, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence; Sean Davis (Alejandro Romero Gamarra, 59′), Cristian Cásseres Jr.; Daniel Royer, Marc Rzatkowski, Josh Sims (Alex Muyl, 81′); Tom Barlow (Bradley Wright-Phillips, 61′)
Substitutes: Ryan Meara, Michael Murillo, Sean Nealis, Omir Fernandez

Scoring Summary
RBNY: Tom Barlow — 32′
RBNY: Daniel Royer — 90’+6″ (Bradley Wright-Phillips

Discipline Summary
RBNY: Marc Rzatkowski — 60′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. This is the blueprint against us.

    Double Monteiro everywhere. Close down everyone else.

    Leave Gaddis open because he does nothing.

    Until we get a better RB teams are just going to smother us because they know we play offense with 10 players.

  2. Looks like we’ll have another playoff game away from home if this poor performance continues. Was hoping that 2nd half would be better than the 1st; instead it was actually worse. How one can not score off 7 or 8 corners is also a mystery to me.

    • Not to excuse a poor performance but the union have clinched at least one home playoff game

    • 7 or 8 corners? Try 700 or 800 over the past several seasons. With one exception on a short corner earlier this year, when was the last direct score off of a corner this team has had?

  3. The effort seemed to be lacking against a team who had to fly across country midweek but who was beating the Union to most of the loose balls.
    A win would have put the Union in the driver’s seat for first. Now it will be difficult to find a scenario where they don’t have to play in the shithole in the Bronx.
    Hopefully they will find a way to get a better result against a shorthanded San Jose team on Wednesday, but they’ve now lost 4 of 5 on the road since July 4, all by multiple goals.

  4. Chris Gibbons says:

    Not fast enough, not smart enough, not brave enough, not at all enough.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    I think they need to go back to the 4-4-2. Give Fabian another shot at the 10 with Montiero, Bedoya, and Haris. Speaking of Montiero – dude hasn’t been the same since his injury. Plus I don’t think he is a 10 and shouldn’t play there for the majority of the game. Play Fafa and Kasper up top or Kasper and whoever. It worked well for a lot of the season. Switch formation later in the game when you bring Santos and Ilsinho in. I think Aaronson is better at home when the Union can play more of a pressing style.
    Hopefully McKenzie isn’t too bad but I saw on twitter Jim said “it looks bad for him”. Guess we’ll see. Hoping for the best.
    Settle down and go play your game vs San Jose and I think you’ll do fine. I feel like, and credit to Red Bull in the first half, the Union never got going and weren’t able to dictate much. I’m addition to that – that aaa probably the sloppiest game the Union have played in a while.

  6. fuckers.
    there. I said it.

  7. Not much to say about the Union. They didn’t do anything they needed to do. And were really lucky not to have conceded a couple more goals. It was a pretty dispiriting performance for a team of ambition.

  8. Haris sat way too deep for most of the match and spent tons of time between Elliott and Trusty. While he was playing more long direct passes in the first half, he stopped doing that (primarily because NY sat much deeper). They needed to do a better job of linking play in the middle of the pitch and then take advantage of NY’s compact shape by getting down the wings more often. They did a little better with this in the first half, but it still was hard for them to play through NY’s tightly packed lines.

    Take away Blake’s miscue and the match was there for the taking.

    • Yes! Exactly!

      I feel like Wagner did well and was able to take the ball up the wing a few times but Aaronson had a bad night and was no help.

      Gaddis also had time and space on the ball but he could do nothing with it, and Picault couldn’t help because he is a one note player.

      Bedoya was not able to drift right and help like he usually does because in the 4-2-3-1 he is responsible for both sides of the field and can’t cheat right all game like he can on the right side of a 4-4-2 diamond.

      All in all it was a tactical shut down, and I really hope Curtin does something about it because this is how teams will play us until we beat it.

      • Yup, it all has a ripple effect. Even when Ilsinho came on, his starting position with the ball was about 10 yards further back than normal and while he can maneuver through tight areas, he’s not gonna win a sprint with Lawrence. So instead, he has to play sideways or check back to Gaddis.

        FWIW – for a guy who is pretty ripped, Santos gets gassed fairly quickly. He needed at least 60-90 sec to recover from any long runs which was odd for a sub. He could barely move at times as he struggled to catch his breath.

  9. Womp Womp.
    Out of synch.
    Unable to finish.
    Move on and pray they can figure out how to play on the road.

  10. Ok so, Fabian and Santos should be sold immediately. Santos was flailing around and had the worse touch ever like he was an American high schooler. He can’t even beat defenders with typical moves to get by players. He has tunnel vision instead of just relaxing and playing to feet and getting comfortable in the game. Fabian does the same shit every game now. Poor touches, wrong passes, he’s just not a good fit. And when trying to come back in a match and we need that aggressive offense he doesn’t Help at all. I’m tired of hearing that he should be the 10. He shouldn’t be anything on this team. And I’m not surprised at all. With making nothing with the corners they got. The Union never do ! They have to have the worst record in MLS history with developing nothing from corners and set pieces for that matter. Sell Fabian and Santos and Wooten and go out and get a star forward who has a real top tier league record to play along side Przyblko.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Funny you say, he does have tunnel vision. I find myself and found myself frequently this past game thinking, Sergio’s gonna check his should or he’s gonna take a look right and again and again, he just kept his head down on ball totally comitted to what he was going to do… which, incidentally was very little.
      I’m surprised by the lack of off ball awareness (as in literally off ball or when tracking down a pass to him in flank as he drags a defender and is yet to capture possession.)

  11. If we start in a 4-2-3-1 again I would put Monteiro next to Haris and put Bedoya on the right wing with Aaronson or Fabian at the 10.

  12. Why not Fontana? He actually goes to goal.

  13. Fabian should not see the field. Are we a mediocre team or a first place professional team? If we’re the latter then again , Fabian should not see the field. Give me Aarondson at the 10. I wouldn’t mind giving Fontana some starts at this point as well. He has a knack for simple and effective passing and getting into space for passes. He’s also been a magnet for goal. Harris needs to step up his game. Getting very lazy in recent games. In this match, we see him raising his hand for a hand ball call and stops running after the opponent! You have to at least continue to chase down the player especially when in the final third of the field.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Dare I say Haris could be a little tired?! I have enjoyed Curtin’s flexibility and changes this season, but this year is a first for that. For Curtin to have Haris play every minute of every game (which I am pretty sure he has) is just insane. This, to me is more on Curtin than Haris. It also goes to why they should be playing Montiero and Bedoya in a 4-4-2, to protect Haris – who can’t/doesn’t defend that much to begin with.

  14. Old Soccer Coach says:

    A point noticed while watching on TV.
    Marco Fabian does not change direction sharply when running at speed. He rounds off the corners and hence loses steps when have to recover reacting to a dispossession or other transition.
    Three years ago when Ilsinho arrived, or was it four, neither could he. The sports performance people and he have fixed that but it took a while. First came improvement in straight ahead speed. Then came the better ability to change direction to which I refer.

    • Well I think with Ilsihno , he just really had to get back in shape. He’s a European pro, he doesn’t have to learn how to change direction or how to keep pace.

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