CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union may not have started on a positive note, but ended the match flying high against their bitter rivals.
Marco Fabian’s 105th minute goal sealed a massive comeback for Jim Curtin’s side, giving them a 4-3 extra time win over the New York Red Bulls. The win sets the Union up with a date against Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“The Red Bulls deserve credit, I though they played a really strong game and at the end of the day it’s two good teams going at it,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “Somebody has to lose unfortunately and they had a great season. This is a big step forward for this club. We haven’t won a championship yet, but it’s the type of win that build momentum.”
It was the Red Bulls however who wasted no time breaking the deadlock in Chester. A poor clearance from Jack Elliott allowed Kaku to lay off a pass for the streaking Josh Sims. The English winger rifled a missile past Andre Blake and into the bottom corner for the opening goal.
The Union came close to equalizing in the 12th minute as a corner kick was cleared off the line by Red Bulls right back Rece Buckmaster.
Tim Parker doubled the lead for the Red Bulls in the 24th minute, taking advantage of an Andre Blake miscue. The Jamaican was caught out of goal trying to claim a Kaku corner kick, allowing Parker to head in his third-career MLS goal.
In desperate need of a goal, Alejandro Bedoya pulled one back for the hosts in the 30th minute. Haris Medunjanin’s free kick was sent into the box, allowing Bedoya the opportunity to stroke a right-footed shot into the bottom-left corner.
After rattling the crossbar earlier in the half, Tom Barlow extended the visitors lead to 3-1. Blake failed to catch a cross into the box, allowing Barlow an easy tap into an empty net.
The second half got underway with a bang as the Union pulled a goal back from a set piece. Sergio Santos headed Medunjanin’s free kick off the bar, before Jack Elliott put away the rebound.
Philly did not lay down though as Fafa Picault leveled things at 3-3 in the 79th minute. Santos’ cross was finished perfectly by the winger who rose highest to head past Robles.
“I knew that Sergio was going to try and cut back and cross that ball into the box and I just made sure to be ready,” Picault said. “Obviously, I didn’t want to be on the bench but my job is to make whatever minutes I am on the field count. I tried to do that again today.”
The Union had the first crack in extra time as Kai Wagner’s long-range effort in the 91st minute was pushed wide by Robles. However, their pressure would pay off as substitute Marco Fabian’s attempted cross in the first minute of the first extra time period deflected off of Marc Rzatkowski and in for the game-winning goal.
The Union will take on the defending MLS Cup champs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday.
“We are extremely confident that we can go there and get a result,” Union defender Jack Elliott said. “We beat them here and we took a point in Atlanta when we played them earlier in the season so it’s positive knowing we can go toe-to-toe with them.”