photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports
By MATT STYPULKOSKI
HARRISON, N.J. – For the second straight week, the Philadelphia Union managed three points against one of the Eastern Conference’s tougher foes.
After nicking D.C. United in stoppage time at home last weekend, the Union made the trek up Interstate 95 to Red Bull Arena Sunday, where they walked away 2-0 winners.
“If you look across the league, this is the way that the league goes,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “The better team in both boxes wins the game and I thought we were the better team inside the 18s tonight.”
The Union overcame a first-half that saw the Red Bulls control possession and hit the post twice, showing much more energy to start the second half, which the Red Bulls failed to match.
Vincent Noguiera opened the scoring in the 57th minute. After Cristian Maidana let a shot go from the top of the penalty area, Noguiera managed to get a piece of the effort and redirected it past a diving Luis Robles for a 1-0 lead.
Just five minutes later, C.J. Sapong doubled the advantage. Once again, Maidana started the move, this time by sliding a ball through to an overlapping Fabinho. That’s when the left back picked out an easy cross to the wide-open Sapong, who subbed on just after the break following a three-week suspension.
In the end, that was enough for a Union win – the club’s first in seven tries at Red Bull Arena.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “Six games we haven’t won here. To come here into a tough place against a very well-coached, good team, a top team in the East, a team that high-presses all over the field. I thought we did a good job of getting through the first 15 minutes and then put a play or two together in the second half.”
Both sides entered the day shorthanded, as the Red Bulls played without center backs Damien Perrinelle (hamstring) and Matt Miazga (international duty) and lost Kemar Lawrence to injury after 30 minutes. The Union were forced to go without striker Fernando Aristeguieta, who is with the Venezuelan national team, and Maurice Edu, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Those absences may have led to the lackluster start, as both teams were unable to muster much in the early going.
The Union’s lone first-half chance came in the 14th minute, when the Red Bulls’ Roy Miller sent a pass directly to the Conor Casey, who in turn sent Cristian Maidana in on goal. Robles was equal to the task, however, as he came off his line and made a reactionary save.
The Red Bulls took a bit longer to warm up, though they ultimately managed a handful of quality first-half chances – including two that hit the woodwork.
Twenty-seven minutes in, Sacha Klejstan set up Felipe all alone at the top of the box, but the midfielder dragged his shot just a bit too far and found the left post. In the 43rd minute, Mike Grella went to his bag of tricks along the end line and beat a pair of defenders, but his curled shot from a difficult angle rang off the right post and back into play.
“When you go on the road, it’s going to be difficult always,” Curtin said. “You’re going to concede possesssion – we did that tonight. We conceded possession to them. But if you look at the end of the day, three shots on goal for each team. So we took our chances and they were a little unlucky on the night.”
Even after the Union found the back of the net, they were unable to calmly close out the result. Bradley Wright-Phillips forced Brian Sylvestre into action with a diving save in the 75th minute and the Red Bulls had a pair of penalty shouts denied by referee Baldomero Toledo.
The loss keeps the Red Bulls, which have won just one of their last six matches after a blistering start to the season, in third place in the Eastern Conference. The road will get no easier from here, either, as the club travels to Seattle for a matchup with the Sounders next Sunday.
Meanwhile, with the win, the Union jumps into a tie for sixth with Orlando City – which plays later Sunday night – ahead of a trip to visit RFK Stadium and D.C. United on Saturday.
This undoubtedly qualifies RBNY for the top spot in the local homer power rankings. Keep up the good work!!!
Union missing their two best players. Mo and Fernando. Just saying. Doop!
Tim Ream and Zlatan.
Was at the game. Onyewu was
Sitting in front of me. Maybe he is looking for a job & r/b can use a center back. Although after tonight he may rethink that idea.
Please. RBNY need a real center back, not some has been who should retire. I wonder where the posters are who said a month ago this team was so awesome it was unnecessary to sign any DPs because this team couldn’t be improved upon. Yes multiple people seriously said that. Get your checkbook out Red Bull!!
“The loss keeps the Red Bulls, which have won just one of their last six matches after a blistering start to the season, in third place in the Eastern Conference.”
What happens when they lose to Seattle and have one win in seven matches? Is there a chapter in Ali G’s 300 page plan for that?