Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIPhotos.com
BY MIKE NASTRI
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?
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