Philadelphia Union Earn 2-2 Draw With NY Red Bulls

In what, depending on who you talk to on what day, may be a “rivalry” game, the Phildelphia Union (8-6-5, 29 pts, second place Eastern Conference) hosted the New York Red Bulls (8-9-3, 27 pts, third place) on another hot night in Chester, PA. It turned out to be an exhilarating come from behind draw for the Union. After a 1st half that featured what Union Coach Jim Curtin called two “silly” goals by the Red Bulls, the Union scored their two goals in a span of two minutes in the second half, and had to hold on a man down for the last 18′ plus 3′ of stoppage time to seal the deal.

Both teams started the game in a 4-2-3-1- formation as follows:

Union Starting XI: 1 Andre Blake (GK), 33 Fabinho (DF), 16 Richie Marquez (DF), 4 Ken Tribbett (DF), 12 Keegan Rosenberry (DF), 7 Brian Carroll (C) (MF) , 10 Tranquillo Barnetta (MF), 13 Chris Pontius (MF), 6 Roland Alberg (MF), 26 Ilsinho (MF), 17 C.J. Sapong (F) As a further note on the U starting 11, Captain Brian Carroll started his 150th game in a Union Jersey, the team leader in that regard. Curtin after the game called him the “unsung hero” of the season making the “dirty runs” needed to help the team.

New York Red Bulls Starting XI: 31 Luis Robles (GK), 5 Connor Lade (DF), 78 Aurelien Collin (DF), 55 Damien Perrinelle (DF), 15 Sal Zizzo (MF), 11 Dax McCarty (C) (MF), 8 Felipe Martins (MF), 13 Mike Grella (FW),  16 Sacha Kljestan (MF), 19 Alex Muyl (FW), 99 Bradley Wright-Phillips (FW)

The Union were the better team for 15′ of the first half with quite a few chances but none serious.  NY took over after that and in the 27′ Sacha Kljestan (3) scored an easy goal as the Union D seemed to fall asleep for a minute. He would score again in the 44′ on a free kick that took a deflection off of Barnetta giving Blake no chance for the save. As the 1st half ended the Red Bulls with some help from the refs on very iffy foul calls made and not made – especially the WWE takedown by Grella on Barnetta, after a play was over,  that easily could have been a yellow – were up two falls to none. The only Yellow cards of the half actually awarded were both to the Union,  in the 36′ to Brian Carroll, and the second went to Ilsinho in the 43′. Statistically the Red Bulls led easily in every category; Possession 57.5 – 42.5; Duels won 6.4 – 36.6; Shots 4-1 w/ all on target.

The 2nd half started with no lineup changes. The Union seemed to get a boost from playing towards the River End in the second half. Their best chance of the game to that point came in the 56′ as Pontius was sprung but Luis Robles made a tremendous save. He would keep the Red Bulls in this game to the very end.

The comeback was just about to begin though, as in the 66′ Damien Perrinell  was given a Yellow for taking down Pontius in the Box and Sapong banged home the PK.  Soon after in the 68′ sub Fabian Herbers sent a beautiful cross from the right side. C.J. Sapong let it go and Chris Pontius put in in the back of the net to tie the game and even the Press Box shook like I have never felt before here. The momentum was definitely on the Union side and as Curtin said in post game “The Packed house was great…Loudest it has been this year.”. This would change though when in the 72′ Ilsinho got his 2nd Yellow for a retaliatory elbowing of  Connor Lade in the nose after being held for awhile.

Even though they were down a man they continued their usual high pressing and still got a few good chances in including a run on a 90′ counter which Robles saved once again. Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch remarked on his subs “Ridiculously we had to go to five in the back when we’re up a man because I didn’t feel like we could defend.”

The teams each used all three subs w/ the Union making the 1st sub of the match Herbers on for Alberg in the  64′. This sub really seemed to help with the momentum swing as he made the great pass on the tying goal.  67′ saw the Red Bulls first Sub as Sal Zizzo was taken off for Chris Duvall. Their second in the 80′ Gonzalo Verón replaced Alex Muyl. The U’s second sub in the 82′ was Sebastien Le Toux for Pontius. In the 83′ NY’s final Sub had  Wright-Phillips coming off for Zubar and the U ended the subbing late in the 92′ as Warren Creavalle replaced Tranquillo Barnetta.

In the end 18,500 (a sell out) energetic Union and Red Bull fans shook Talen Energy Stadium in what Curtin called a “playoff atmosphere” and this night proved that a Tie can be a good thing – are you listening Gary Bettman? – as again Curtin remarked that he was “Incredibly proud of the effort” and that “All things considered a point is a good result”

Some more Post Game Presser Tweets:

Sapong: PK was awesome.We have been working on strategies for them.

Curtin:1st half strange. Gave up silly goals. Thought response was good.

Curtin: Silly offside. Offside too much in the first half.

Curtin: We don’t quit. Belief is the word. They believe they can play w anybody home or away.

 

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