Andre Blake handed the boys in blue a point they had no business getting.
Union first XI: Blake; Fabinho (Gaddis 87′), Elliott, Marquez, Rosenberry; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Pontius, Ilsinho (Creavalle 45′), Epps (Simpson 65′); Sapong
Red Bulls first XI: Robles; Murillo, Zizzo, Perrinelle; Lade, Davis, Keita (Kljestan 58′), Felipe, Etienne (Wright-Phillips 65′), Muyl; Veron (Adams 75′)
With Oguichi Onyewu suspended, Jim Curtin turned to Richie Marquez in the back and Keegan Rosenberry on the right side. Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch chose to rest a couple of his stars due to the Open Cup Final coming this Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City, even though the Red Bulls desperately needed all three points to keep pace in the playoff hunt.
The first half in New York was all Red Bulls, from the opening kick. They earned five early corners, continually applying pressure, and it appeared as though the match would get away from the U quickly. Connor Lade had a go low and hard to the right corner eight minutes in but Union keeper Andre Blake had it covered. When the Red Bulls did need to work the ball up the pitch, they hit long balls down the right side where Keegan Rosenberry was, often with success. Blake had to come out of the box in the 22nd minute to deny Veron a clean look at goal on a 1v1, sliding in to tackle the ball away. Four minutes later, Andre made back to back saves on Davis and Etienne to keep things scoreless. In the 32nd minute, Blake stoned Veron again with a dive to his left, stopping a ball meant for the far post. Veron will have nightmares about this match, because eight minutes after that save, Blake dove to his right to touch a hard low shot from Veron out for a corner that was destined for the corner of the net. The Jamaican keeper would finish the match with eight saves, his season high.
The beginning of the second half saw Union manager Jim Curtin substitute Warren Creavalle in for Ilsinho, pushing Medunjanin and Bedoya up higher into the attack. The effects were immediate, as the Union started playing out of the back easier and generating some possession. Marsch countered by bringing on Kljestan in the 58th, and Sasha immediately responded by nearly springing Veron in on Blake alone a minute later. The 63rd minute saw a play that neatly encapsulated Chris Pontius’s scoreless season when he took a ball in on goal to the left, took one too many touches, and barely troubled Robles with a claim. Two minutes later, C.J. Sapong had a go at a ball that bounced in the box but he couldn’t quite get his foot around it and it sailed wide of the net. Simpson came on for Epps and Bradley Wright-Phillips came in for Etienne right after as the Red Bulls put their stars in to try to win the match.
More pressure from the Red Bulls came in the 70th minute when Kljestan opted not to shoot from the right side of the box and instead chip the ball over to Muyl, who couldn’t quite connect with it in what would have been an open net look. Adams came on for Veron in the 75th to end what had to have been a frustrating day for the youngster. Soon after, Pontius tried to chip Robles but Luis easily stopped it. The theatrics continued from Blake as he punched a corner a couple minutes later and then was forced to make a spectacular kick save on Wright-Phillips.
Ray Gaddis came in for Fabinho (who was having physical issues off and on during the second half), and the match somehow ended with the Union escaping with a point they had no business getting, but for the brilliance of Andre Blake.
Notes: there was a graphic during the match that basically said everything you needed to know about the Union’s season. They have allowed fourteen goals after the 75th minute and lost ten points in the standings because of it. Failure to close out matches will leave you home in November for sure.