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Red Bulls edge ten-man Union at PPL Park

KennyCooper (Getty)


CHESTER, Pa.– It was a back-and-forth and exciting match, but only one team emerged with three points on Sunday afternoon as the New York Red Bulls defeated the Philadelphia Union, 3-2, at PPL Park.

Kenny Cooper scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute to lift the Red Bulls to their fourth straight win, a victory that moved New York into first place in the East.

An eventful first half saw Joel Lindpere put the Red Bulls up in the 17th minute, only for a lively Freddy Adu to find Lionard Pajoy in the box for an equalizer in the 31st. Adu's masterful performance ended early after he was shown a second yellow card for a dive in the penalty area.

In the second half, Pajoy scored again early to give the Union a surprise 2-1 lead. But the man advantage became more apparent as the half wore on, and New York equalized in the 68th through Markus Holgersson before Cooper netted the winner.

"I think [the Union] got tired," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. "To give away a goal like that, confidence-wise, it's not the best way to start the second half. But overall, we were able to finish them off, as they wore down."

After an opening fifteen minutes in which Philadelphia controlled most of the possession, New York shocked PPL Park when they marched quickly down the field and Mehdi Ballouchy set up Joel Lindpere, who fired the ball into the net from the edge of the box in the 17th minute.

Fourteen minutes later, Lionard Pajoy finally managed to finish one of the many chances he'd been getting, heading in a cross from Freddy Adu. The first half hour of the game had been marked by the outstanding play of Adu, who was terrorizing the Red Bull defense, beating several defenders with each run down the field.

Right before halftime, though, Adu's day came to an early end, as he was deemed by referee Jorge Gonzalez to have dived in the box and was issued a second yellow card.

Philadelphia responded the best way possible after halftime, scoring again through Pajoy to take a 2-1 lead.

But as the game progressed, the Red Bulls took advantage of their extra man on the field, and began to dominate possession. It paid off in the 68th minute, when Markus Holgersson got up high to head in a goal off a Brandon Barklage cross. Holgersson had been nightmarish defensively up to that point, but he made his mark offensively to tie the game up.

Then, in the 78th minute, Rafa Marquez found Kenny Cooper, who beat Carlos Valdes and goalie Zac MacMath in one motion before tapping the ball into an open net. At that point, New York dropped back, and did their best to hold onto the lead.

Philadelphia seemed to wake up, and came at New York with waves of pressure in the closing minutes. In the 86th minute, Michael Farfan found himself looking at an open goal with the ball at his feet from only a yard or so out. But somehow, he put his shot all the way along the goal line and wide.

In stoppage time, the Union had another golden opportunity when a Farfan free kick fell to several Union players, but Red Bulls goalie Ryan Meara was able to heroically grab it.

New York held on for the three points, putting them atop the Eastern Conference above struggling Sporting Kansas City. Philadelphia, meanwhile, were left to rue a number of missed chances and were left puzzled about the Adu situation.

“It wasn’t a foul or anything. But in that instant, I’m not just trying to bait the ref into calling it," Adu said. "I’ve already got a yellow card. I’m not gonna go out there and be stupid and try and dive. I was just bracing myself to get hit. He stuck his foot out, but he didn’t get me.

“I didn’t stay down and complain for a call or anything like that, I was just trying to get right back up and play, but he blew the whistle," said Adu. "Everything happened so fast, and he just decided ‘You try to bait me, I’m gonna give him another.’ In my opinion, if a player’s already on a yellow card and something like that happens, I think you get a warning.”

While Backe recognized that Adu's sending off was a factor in his team's win, he also said he doesn't really like playing with a man-advantage, because it can lead to certain problems.

"We talked quickly before halftime, but this happens nine out of 10 times," Backe said of Philly's goal to open the second half. "I hate playing 11 against 10. You should have more possession and outplay a team, but something happens. You run less, and you have too much time on the ball. So we said at halfitme you need to run more, we have to give more options, and we have to use the one-two pass game. But I think we need to practice that more."

Regardless of how they needed to do it, New York earned the three points against a hated rival in Philadelphia. It was their fourth straight win after having lost three consecutive games.

The Union, meanwhile, were left struggling to find positives in a game where they scored two goals in a match for the first time this year, but still lost.

“Today, a full ninety minutes across the board, everybody played great,” said Nowak after the game. “I’m very proud of the effort. It’s always disappointing to lose the game, but the fashion we presented ourselves, that was the real Union team that we want to see.”

Next week, each team takes to the road, as New York travels to Montreal for a date with the Impact while Philadelphia heads to Dallas.


What do you think of the Red Bulls' away win over the Union? Did Adu deserve to be sent off? Can New York keep up this level of play without Thierry Henry?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Well didn’t know that you did that ,as for the fact that when you guys came in a big number last year your singing ended approx. In the 8th min. And Viking Army did the busters scarf ,also as a bus trip thing.
    Conrad either you don’t follow RB/Metro for a long time or you are Phily fan. We played each other 6 times…that’s it …We played DC some were around 80 times , with many brutal encounters between fans ….no they aren’t rivals #1 for now.not the same league , maybe in 10 years we can change that , but not yet.
    Phily Fans , seriously you trying to make fun of us for not winning anything for years dostn stand at all as you dint win NOTHING yet …And as of now we are the WINNERS as you took the most incopent person from us to run your team NICK S. Pink Cows it’s funny , but it dosnt affect us at all…calling us Metro Rejects dosnt make sense as RB is the same club as Metro…..and please make some new song/ chants as to reviving our songs from early 2000’s ain’t the way …..I WANT TO PLAY YOU IN PLAYOFFS …if you make it there

  2. Well, I didn’t say that, but I guess others have. Still, I don’t see much simulation in MLS. Even so, this was hardly an egregious dive, and the red card completely changed the game.

  3. Very entertaining game. Adu played his best game BY FAR for the Union, but just as things are going well, he gets sent off. Philly looked much better with two forwards and RBNY left Adu unmarked whenever he drifted into the middle from right midfield. Give Adu time/space and he looks dangerous. At the same time, when he is pressed, he has been poor. It’ll be interesting to see if Adu and the Union can figure out a way to get him open every game as I doubt opponents are interested in leaving him wide open in attacking positions.

    With Califf leaving, it looks like Williams will be centerback and he’s played well. Unfortunately he won’t be on the right anymore and while Gaddis has done a good job, I think Philly is better with Williams on the right. Philly should go find a centerback (easier said than done) and shift Williams back out right.

    Keon Daniel also missed two great chances, the second of which would’ve put Philly up 3-1. Alas, both chances fell to his right foot and he missed. Grrr.

    Final note, Macmath played well and it looks like his early season issues are behind him. Kudos to him.

  4. the only way to crack down on diving is to penalize it. and to say that you should penalize it less because the player has a yellow card is ludicrous

  5. it was pretty clearly a dive, he saw dax, and decided to fall. he even half-admitted it by saying he “braced” for impact.

    and after he fell, he REACHED for the ball with his hands. that’s the universal way that soccer players claim a foul.
    isn’t the intentional handball an automatic yellow anyway?

  6. that might have been the union’s best performance, but they didn’t completely outplay ny all game — look at the 47th minute to the 85th minute, when the red bulls dominated and scored two goals.

  7. 3rd win in 8 days for the Red Bulls. LOL! Philly sucks! Enjoy Nick Sack and Peter Nowak, guys. They sure are building you a winner. (NOT.)

  8. I’m with you guys.

    Why do some refs seem to try to create drama around themselves? I think every team should come up with a cheer that goes something like “You’re still not famous!” when refs try to make themselves the center of the action.

  9. 1. I LOVE Freddy Adu, and that setup to clear space for the cross on the first Union goal was amazing. That said, it was a dive. That little waggle of his trailing foot trying to make contact is the dead giveaway. It was, however, a noncall. RBNY had possession; ref’s call took a dynamic player out of the game. Stupid

    2. I really don’t like Kenny Cooper, but I have to say, that goal was sick. That put-away was NOT easy. Most players shank that and end up falling badly. Give the guy credit.

    3. Agudelo, if he had Freddy Adu giving him service? Who knows how many he scores in a season.

    RBNY fans who say Philly is not a rivalry are being snotty. DC? Who cares? (My opinion.)

  10. It’s not rival game for us , not at least for few more years . it’s was funny to see that sons of Betsy actually made scarfs against us ,calling us pink cows.another funny thing thing is them making fun of us saying that we dont have cups…I mean I understand when that comes from DC or Fire fan that actually won trophies , but Unions c’ mon…..their are so delusional especially chanting at us METRO rejects…huh…we are METRO morons

  11. I take no issue with the article until the end, who says the union are a rival of rbny? Actually all I hear from ny fans is annoyance that people are trying to call it a rivalry. We have played them, what, 5 times? Our rival has been and always will be dc. I think of philly the way i think of teams like chivas, just another team we have to play. There is no rivalry, move along…

  12. Aside from Diving Freddy, ythis Philly team is atrocious AND they started getting lazy once they got the lead. A well deserved loss.

  13. Adu was outstanding in the first half. I agree that it should have been a no call. Adu wasn’t looking for a PK. Noticed how he doesn’t role around; he gets up and tries to keep on playing. If Adu keeps up these types of performances he will be a lock for the USMNT for the fall WC qualifiers. This is the Adu everyone has been waiting to see! Still the most talented player in the USMNT player pool.

  14. The article says NY lost three in a row before winning four in a row. Not so. Before this stretch, they beat Columbus, drew Sam Jose and then lost to DC.


  16. “If a player’s already on a yellow card and something like that happens, I think you get a warning.”

    Uh, no. The yellow card IS the warning.

  17. Agreed James, should have been a no call and I’m a RB fan. A second yellow should be a no brainer, not a “well maybe”.

  18. The same Alex Morgan that couldnt score against the US-U17’s? Come on i respect the USWNT but to act as if they are better than the mens team is a joke considering they lost 8-2 to the U17’s

  19. As a Red Bulls fan, I can’t believe the ref booked him for diving. Right or wrong, it was an unusual call, and I might dislike unusual calls more than I like wrong ones.

    If that call gets made all the time, fine, but it doesn’t. Like calling a penalty on a corner for a little shirt tugging.

  20. Adu was electrifying and had he stayed in the match any objective viewer would have to believe Philadelphia would have continued to dominate play. So definitely unfortunate for the Union, but for USMNT supporters it was great to see Freddy back in top form.

  21. So this was the best performance by the Union all season, not a surprise that Adu had his strongest performance to date as well. MacMath’s first was a bit questionable, though it was a rip.

    Pajoy missed a golden chance to bury this game in the 38th, but we clearly gifted that 2nd by a napping RB backline.

    The Adu sendoff to my mind was questionable at best. Adu did not look to dive, simply lost his balance while running through two defenders. He didn’t roll around or call out for a call…

    Hey MLS, can we splash some DP money on better refs? They seem to be the headline week in and week out.

  22. Gonzalez has not been kind to the Union. He sent Williams off last year vs. Portland.

    It’s a shame that the red card ruined what was a great match. Gonzalez has to use some common sense there. Adu never asked or remonstrated for the PK, he simply fell down.

    Great tactical move by Backe to bring on Paulsson for Ruthven and moving Rafa to center back. Much different when Rafa has the ball with no pressure instead of Ruthven.

  23. It seemed pretty clear to me that Adu was attempting to dodge McCarty’s challenge (watch how he moves his left leg), which caused him to fall to the ground. Not a dive or a foul, a clear no call. Ironically, if he did not attempt to dodge the challenge, he might have actually earned the PK.

  24. Well if you’re saying the referee is corrupt or on the payroll of some bettors somewhere, that’s a theory you’ll have to prove yourself. But this was not just Adu losing his balance. He got by the defender and then just put his head down and went to ground. He may not have embellished — that is, he may not have tried to make a foul look worse than it was — but he surely simulated — that is, he tried to give the appearance of a foiul when none was committed.

  25. If the Union were as good as their fans say and RBNY was as bad as they say. Philly could have won with 6 players and RBNY 22.

    Fact: RBNY scored 3 goals without Henry. Philly still had 4 defenders on the field and took the lead with 10 men.

  26. All that establishes is that he jumped, lost his balance then fell to the ground. If Adu was diving for the PK, where was the embellishment? The play acting? Nothing about that said dive – especially yellow card worthy dive – besides the fact he fell down. Offensive players are allowed to fall down, right?
    The fact that the ref was so quick to his pocket, despite this “Dive” have no elements of a dive, means he wanted to contribute to the outcome of the game.

  27. Some might think (I don’t) that a referee should previous cautions when deciding whether to issue a second yellow. But to argue that Adu simply “tripped” — that seems far-fetched. He jumped over McCarty’s leg and then almost literally dove to the ground. He got caught. One can disagree with the punishment, biut he clearly did the crime.

  28. Terrible call on Adu. Did Adu embellish? Was he play acting? Did he exaggerate? Was he looking for the PK? No. Adu just as likely tripped than dived. Terrible call.
    Otherwise, if there was one lose the Union could take and still be optimistic with how they played, it was this one.

  29. FIRE BACKE AND SOLER!!! huh? WHA?…..oohhhh second in the conferance. among the five best records in the league…FIRE BACKE AND SOLER THEY”RE RUINING THIS TEAM!!!

  30. I’m a big fan of this kid, but best American Forward? Some day, but not yet – especially after the year Altidore is winding up.

  31. Best American forward in the game: Juan Agudelo.
    Both the bicycle kick out of nothing and the volley were incredibly impressive, hopefully he gets a goal soon because he is doing great things since returning from injury.


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