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Red Bulls top Union, 2-1, in first meeting

Mike Petke (HowardCSmithISI) 

Photo by Tony Quinn/


The Red Bulls were able to grind out a victory 2-1 against the Philadelphia Union thanks to a goal by Salou Ibrahim and a PK from Juan Pablo Angel. New York once again got the three points despite not dominating but playing some blue-collar soccer.

"It's been I would say every game very similar; hard work, dirty work," said head coach Hans Backe. "We went out there today and started defending and defending, after 60 minutes you could see the back through midfield just dropping back to the 18-yard line."

That's exactly what the Red Bulls did, defend. Besides the mistake on the Union goal, NYRB was able to keep the Union attack at bay. Philadelphia had some solid chances but were unable to finish,which ultimately doomed the Union despite another solid effort from the expansion team.

"If you don't convert your chances like that you struggle," said Union boss Peter Nowak. "We had chances, and the most important thing is to finish those chances. We have to work on it, it's simple as that."

The most obvious example of these missed chances came in the 4th minute when Sebastien LeToux made a beautiful run into the box, but was unable to convert the one timer off a Alejandro Moreno pass, hitting it right to Bouna Coundoul.

The Red Bulls also had a couple of quality chances, but they too were unable to finish. The best one came off a ball from Lindpere which sprung Angel one-on-one with Union keeper Chris Seitz. Angel, just like Le Toux earlier, hit the ball right at the keeper.

The first half ended scoreless and the Red Bulls came out much more confident to start the second half. After a miss by former Red Bull Nick Zimmerman, the Red Bulls marched down the field. Jeremy Hall played a gorgeous ball to the six-yard box, where the active Salou Ibrahim was able to nod it home for the 1-0 lead.

But after the goal, the Red Bulls packed it in and stopped attacking, allowing the Union to take the reigns.

"After the first goal, I think we just relaxed," said Salou Ibrahim. "I don't know if it was mental thinking that we had already won the game, which is very wrong for us to relax after the first goal."

"In a way we we just invited Philadelphia to score and suddenly they scored," said Backe.

The Union controlled the pace of the game for the next eight minutes and they were rewarded with the equalizer. Roy Miller was caught up field and Moreno found Le Toux on a late run for his fourth goal of the season.

"I knew he was going to cross the ball and I worked very hard," said LeToux of the goal. "I was on the second post and he gave it to me so I just had to tap it in."

"We gave the ball away and they turned and put it right back down our throat," said defender Tim Ream. "And when you give the ball and are out of position it's going to cost you."

The Union goal awoke the sleeping Red Bulls. New York started to play with some urgency and the winner would come just nine minutes later off a PK. After a bad clearance went sky high at the corner of the box,  Michael Orozco handled it on the way down. It was a handball but an unlucky call for the Union, as Orozco didn't intentionally handle the ball.

"I think he lost me in the air, and then he basically used his arm, and unlucky for him it touched his arm right away," said Angel.

That luck would give NYRB the lead as the captain stepped up confidently and nailed the ball past a diving Seitz.

The teams went back and forth after the 67th minute goal by the skipper. But ultimately the Red Bulls would do enough for the 2-1 victory.

The Union played well enough to get a result, but in the end couldn't finish their chances.

"I got some chances in the first half and unfortunately, I missed at the beginning," said Le Toux. "We come back 0-0 at halftime, then we play well but we give a goal. We come back and after there is mistake, there was a handball in the box and we have to play so it's unfortunate and we're a little bit frustrated."

The Union have a chance for retribution on Tuesday night (8pm) in the Open Cup play-in game, once again at Red Bull Arena.

And as for the Red Bulls, they once again showed there is still room for improvement. Hans wants New York to be a team that can "dictate the game, control the game".

What did you think of the game? Do you think the Red Bulls deserved the win? Who were you impressed with Philly?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Hiya – my two cents is that I haven’t seen NYRB ads in any of the publications/mediums I view. Ads on Gothamist, Facebook, some press in New York Magazine and maybe a cover or two in AM NY. The tickets seem ridiculously affordable considering how many games are in a season ticket package. I agree with the comments that the arena isn’t even half full. This last game was appalling–the entire upper half was sparsely populated and the lower bowl wasn’t much better.

  2. Thank you for pointing this fact out to people.

    NY’s attendance has improved by nearly 60% over last year. That’s very, very impressive.

    But I get the feeling that the folks who criticize attendance are fans of rival teams looking for something to attack NY about. How about they just try to score more goals?

  3. Not a great performance for sure by RBNY, but they did enough to get the win. The handball happened right near the corner where I sit. From my vantage point, it did look intentional. There was no reason for him to raise his arm there other than to stop the ball. Now why he would take that risk rather than letting an out-of-form Angel have a shot there is beyond me.

    The attendance was disappointing considering what a gorgeous day it was. I’m not sure what people think RBNY should do to market the team better. The reality is they have to overcome years of poor play and not building a strong fan base. Hopefully, this stadium will get that started, but it’s not going to happen over night.

    One other note, despite the sniping on this board, I thought the Philly support was excellent. They were extremely loud in that end of the stadium and were pretty well behaved. And I don’t know if it was a RBNY or Philly supporter, but one dude on my PATH train got the whole care singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” on the ride back to NY. It was awesome.

  4. I’m not sure what it is with Metro. The team was nice and crisp during the first two games and have grinded it out for the last three. Obviously, the big difference is that last year, they didn’t know how to grind out wins. I’m hoping they get better.

  5. I see that the attendance numbers went up, but I think that many of us were thinking, rivalry game, Philly fans driving across state, all jazzed up for the new team, there will be a huge jump in attendance.

    Instead, just same old 15k MLS game.

    For those that are enjoying the new rivalry, man it looks like it will be a great one. That was an enjoyable game. I do hope there will be more smart enough to enjoy it.

  6. Thank you, Chris. It’s a small sample size, and weather can play a big part, but it seems evident that even if you discount the opening-game phenomenon, RBNY are drawing much, much better. If overall attendance is up by, say, 50% this year versus last year, that would be a remarkable turnaround. It takes a while to undo years of bad news.

  7. Good to see some actual logic on here. All fair points Ryan that I’d have to agree with (accept that part about the Union winning in October). Being a RBNY supporter, I was supremely disappointed in the turnout AND the atmosphere on Saturday. And I even stood up for the attendance issue last week. But on a picture-perfect afternoon against a new Philadelphia rivalry? I was pretty bummed in Section 102. Not to mention… something has to be done about how ‘fans’ support/watch a match. Maybe it’s the new American way, but standing around the whole time, singing nonstop, banging drums nonstop, waving flags nonstop… that’s not my idea of supporting your team if you’re not even watching the game, much less preventing other people from actually watching. Call me a snob if you wish, but fans need better game etiquette.

  8. philly supporters were definitely louder — if you were listening in that section (7652?) anywhere else, and they couldn’t be heard.

  9. they had the players last year? seriously? rojas and pietravallo are seriously worse than lindpere and robinson.

    and miller is better than johnson
    and ream is better than goldthwaite

  10. Also sad that a lot of the empty seats in the lower bowl are season-ticket holders who just don’t come. But those seats aren’t available for open sale and therefore it makes the stadium look more empty. Do need to get more people in to the stadium though.

  11. 2009

    Home Game 1= 12,462

    Home Game 2= 8,508

    Home Game 3= 10,303


    Home Game 1= 24,572

    Home Game 2= 13,667

    Home Game 3= 15,619

  12. So you’re saying that it wasn’t even half full? I was at the game and predicted 15,000, mainly based off a 25,000 capacity and being a little over half capacity. I really don’t think this year’s numbers are inflated. Unlike at GS, which was complete BS.

    And you can’t count attendance until the 24th min. Seriously…New Yorkers are so damn late.

  13. Is it true that Hans Backe is only going to coach for 2 years or something like that, because if not Richie Williams should really look for a head coaching job somewhere else.

  14. Can someone find RBNY’s attendance figures for their first three or four home games last year? I know 15K is only 60% of capacity, but I’m sure it’s way better than last year. I think averaging between 15K and 20K would be pretty good this year.

  15. You mean the little pebble chip on the bus window? Here:

    Any real “rock” bigger than dice would have shattered it. Philly fans like to dish it out but they can’t take it. Listen to them whine when something undesirable happens to them. Our home will be your hell. Be thankful that’s all that happened. Good day to you sir.

  16. Just a note: It wasn’t a sky high clearance that hit Orozco’s hand.

    It was a cross from Joel Lindpere. He was picking out Angel on the other side.

  17. How about throwing rocks at the exiting supporters bus? What witty excuse are you going to come up with for that one?


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