In a match that felt all-too-familiar to last year, the Union took the lead but couldn’t hold on as they lost 2-1 to NYCFC in Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Fafa Picault scored the lone goal for the Union. Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens tallied for the Blues.
Union first XI: Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliot, Oguchi Onyewu, Fabinho; Warren Creavalle, Haris Medunjanin; Chris Pontius, Ilson Jr, Fafa Picault; C.J. Sapong
NYCFC first XI: Sean Johnson; Ethan White, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; Maximiliano Moralez, Thomas McNamara, Alexander Ring; Jack Harrison, David Villa, Miguel Camargo
The match started with the home Blues taking play to the Union for the first fifteen minutes or so, taking advantage of balls over the top on the short pitch to cause problems for the U. The Union gradually grew into the match, applying pressure soon after and earning a series of corners. Late in the first half, Oguchi Onyewu went off for concussion testing after a clash of heads in the box; he stayed in the match for the time being but was subbed out for Richie Marquez in the 39th minute. After four minutes of stoppage due largely in part to Onyewu’s on-field evaluation, the half ended scoreless.
The Blues tested the Union and Andre Blake more and more as the match went on, forcing highlight-reel save after highlight-reel save from the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. They also hit the woodwork at least three times, and it felt like only a matter of time before they solved the puzzle, but it was the Union who struck first. Fafa Picault took a feed from C.J. Sapong, cut to his right around a defender, and ripped a low, hard shot past Sean Johnson that settled perfectly into the side netting in the 69th minute. It seemed as though the visitors would walk away with a result, but eventually NYCFC’s pressure was too much for the Union defense. The Blues converted a corner kick in the 80th minute as Chanot put the ball past Blake, and then again five minutes later as Alexander Callens scored. Deflated, the Union couldn’t find a last-gasp equalizer and dropped all three points.
-This match was eerily similar to matches last year, where the Union lost leads after the 75th minute.
-Manager Jim Curtin won’t be pleased with the Union giving up not one but two goals to set pieces.
-Joshua Yaro made an appearance for the first time since last year, having recovered from labrum surgery in his shoulder.
-The Union were without Alejandro Bedoya, who is currently in camp with the US Men’s National Team. Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin was also called into national team duty for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but insisted on playing in this match for the Union before reporting to his country’s side.
-Fafa Picault’s goal was his third of the season. C.J. Sapong’s assist was his third of the season.
-Andre Blake made seven saves (often times robbing David Villa in the process) and was the only reason the Union were ever really in this match.