HARRISON, N.J. — Two of the Eastern Conference’s stronger teams went punch for punch on Saturday, and it was the New York Red Bulls that were left standing when the dust settled.
Dax McCarty scored a 66th-minute header and the Red Bulls edged the Philadelphia Union, 3-2, at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night. The win moved the Red Bulls back into first place in the east, and kept their unbeaten streak from July alive.
The Union took the initial lead in the game through a deflected Fabian Herbers effort in the 15th minute, but the Red Bulls pulled level just before halftime when an unmarked Sacha Kljestan slotted home a shot from 13 yards out.
Bradley Wright-Phillips wasted little time in jumping ahead, as he got on the end of a McCarty pass and smashed a shot past Andre Blake just over a minute into the second half.
Chris Pontius brought the Union on level terms again in the 55th minute with a close-range header off a cross from Fabinho, but McCarty did the same 11 minutes later on a free kick from the right that Kljestan whipped in.
The match was not the only thing the Union lost against the Red Bulls, as both Joshua Yaro and Alejandro Bedoya had to be subbed off because of injuries. Yaro came off in the 31st minute on a stretcher after taking a scary knock to the head, and Bedoya was removed seven minutes into the second half with a rib problem he sustained in the opening stanza.
MAN OF THE MATCH
A week after writing his name in the New York Red Bulls’ record books for most minutes played, Dax McCarty put his name all over the box score. The defensive midfielder and Red Bulls’ captain enjoyed quite the day at the office against the Union, scoring the winner in the second half and assisting on both of his side’s first two goals as well.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Known for their trickery on set pieces, the Red Bulls kept it fairly direct on the game’s decisive play in the 66th minute. Sacha Kljestan floated a free kick from deep down the right flank into the 18-yard box, and Brian Carroll lost track of McCarty to give the diminutive veteran a scoring chance that was easier to make than miss.
MATCH TO FORGET
C.J. Sapong also had a lousy day when on the attack. He took turns playing as a striker and right midfielder in the game, but never really found his rhythm and failed to have much of a positive imprint on proceedings.