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Second-half rally propels Red Bulls past Union for first win of 2014

Fabio Alves (Fabinho), Lloyd Sam


HARRISON, N.J.– The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union have carried some pretty clear and worrisome trends through the early part of the 2014 season. The Red Bulls have been a slow-starting team that has shown much better quality in the second half, though that hadn’t resulted in any wins before Wednesday. The Union have been playing some of the most attractive soccer in the league, but allowing defensive breakdowns to cost them points at almost every turn.

Both teams stuck to those scripts as the Red Bulls turned up the pressure in the second half and broke through with a pair of second-half goals to earn a 2-1 victory over the Union at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.

Thierry Henry opened the scoring with an unmarked goal off a quality Roy Miller run and pass in the 57th minute, then Lloyd Sam headed home an Eric Alexander cross just 10 minutes later.

The Union battled back to make it a contest in the 80th minute after Sebastien LeToux converted a penalty kick drawn after Ibrahim Sekagya handled a Maurice Edu shot in the penalty area.

Sekagya was shown a straight red card and LeToux converted the penalty to set up a promising final 10 minutes for the Union, but Philadelphia failed to take advantage of the Red Bulls being a man down, mustering just one Edu shot during that time span.

The victory helped the Red Bulls snap a season-opening six-match winless slide.

“You saw a lot of relief after that second goal went in because the way things have been going this year a one-goal lead is not good enough, and you saw what happened with the penalty kick,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said after the match.

“So yeah, it’s a relief. It’s a bit of a monkey off the back.”

Petke expressed with how his team played, though he acknowledged that the Red Bulls once again saved their best soccer for the second half.

“I told them before the game if they want me to put up “2-0 Philly” on the scoreboard before the whistle starts I’d do that,” Petke joked. “It does seem like they need to be down, or the game needs to be in the second half before they come alive.

“At halftime it was all about getting back to our shape and I think we did that a bit better in the second half,” Petke added. “But overall, I am pleased with the result and the effort and a lot of things from tonight.”

John Hackworth’s reaction after the match was a far different one, as he tried to come to grips with seeing his team outplay another opponent for long stretches, only for a lack of finishing and defensive blunders to cost the Union another result.

“The part that we have right is so much harder to get right,” Hackworth said after the match. “The part where we’re talking about these defensive things. You guys have seen it. The guys that have been out there before have preciously done a really good job.

“I don’t know what to say besides we have to get that sorted out.”

The loss drops the Union to 1-2-4 heading into a Saturday meeting with the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. …and just who was this “Eric Alexander” guy playing for RBNY last night???

    haha. For real, easily his best game as a Red Bull. I’ve never seen him play with that much confidence, and when he does, you can see how much skill and technical ability he has with the ball. The only question left: where do you play the guy? I’ve finally realized his main attribute is his excellent quality in the final third, so the key is getting him as close to that area as possible. he’s certainly not a striker and not fast enough to play wide, but I have a hunch he might make for an interesting “10” / CAM. Will RBNY be able to try him there while Henry is here? Doubtful. But I think that would be a great future move once Henry leaves. now…if Alexander can just be consistent. THAT’S the other big question from his whole career.

  2. BWP just isn’t getting it done. Cahill much better at striker. And Segakya is worth at least one or two howlers per game.

  3. Don’t really agree that Philly outplayed RBNY yesterday and I thought the overall result was fair. The biggest problem facing the Red Bulls right now is the lack of a reliable partner for Olave. Sekagya and Armando are both injury prone, tend to give away penalties and get themselves sent off, and aren’t any good even when they do manage to stay on the field. Presumably Sekagya will be suspended for next week, which means more Armando. Wonder if Miazga is ready to start getting some minutes?

  4. What team is Hackworth talking about when he said his side outplayed another opponent for long stretches? It wasn’t the Red Bulls last night. Philly had good looks on counters but even after the red card they still struggled creating.

    • I think you misread. Ives wrote that bit you don’t like, and he is right…pesky quotation marks. Anyway, the Union has found a way to kill itself in the second half of almost every game so far. Against RSL last week, you could actually see RSL start to play faster at the 75 minute mark. Everybody now knows that the Union falls apart at the end. Breaks my heart.

      As a Union fan though, it was really funny watching Henry hurt himself trying to hack somebody 15 years younger than him. Good times…I remember when he was known for his skill.

      • LOL. Henry showed his class numerous times during that game. You guys were visibly frightened to press him when he had the ball 1v1. He almost scored an overhead kick on you and actually scored a nice first time strike on that Roy Miller assist.

        So yea, I’m pretty sure you guys got a pretty good taste of his skill set.

    • don’t forget about my miserable ‘Quakes, still without a win and I can’t imagine when we’ll get one.

      • Yeah and I think Chicago, too? Or somebody else, but I think there are just 3 left and of those 3 (no offense!), last year’s Western Conf winners would have to be the real surprise.

        Hopefully your Quakes don’t get their first against my Rapids tomorrow!

    • Actually Roy Myers was another Costa Rican who played for the team now known as the Red Bulls. Was a skillful midfielder for the MetroStars and Galaxy many moons ago. Can you tell I’ve been around a while? See, even my mistakes serve to educate the masses. LOL

  5. The red bulls need a striker like cooper. A striker that just puts the ball in the back of the net.BWP is not performing! The team also needs a central defender to partner with olave. Armando and sekaya are a liability on the field. The team that played today has potential! Leave eckersley and convey on the bench. They did little to help the team both on and off the ball.

    • Nice to get the first win under their belts.

      I agree with you about Olave needing a partner and the liability attached to Armando and Sekagya.

      I feel like I’m a minority here but Luyindula cannot be our go-to guy through the central midfield. Yes, he is good with the ball at his feet, but at his age, he simply does not have the legs to boss the midfield and win 50-50 balls. He put together two good games at the end of last season and has been riding that train for awhile. I think Petke caved a little bit to media pressure to put Luyindula back into the middle, Alexander out wide and BWP up top. I think both Peguy and BWP are better off the bench.

      Alexander did not have a good first half but in the 2nd half he showed his ability to win 50-50 balls, take defenders on 1 v 1 and create with his passing. He was involved with both goals. I like him inside with Steele on left wing.

      We need a second striker. And probably a third. I thought BWP was completely ineffective tonight. Lack of hustle and toughness on the ball and did not finish when given the chance.


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