The MLS regular season resumed play on Thursday night with a trio of Eastern Conference matchups kicking off what will be a busy week of matches.
Chris Armas’ New York Red Bulls picked up a third win of the season, blanking Hudson River rivals NYCFC 1-0 at Red Bull Arena. Kyle Duncan’s second goal of the season proved to be the difference between the two teams from Harrison.
The Columbus Crew also picked up three points on Thursday after shutting out the Chicago Fire 2-0 at Mafpre Stadium. Derrick Etienne and Darlington Nagbe provided the goals for Caleb Porter’s side, whom remain in top form this season.
Both the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution tried to earn a first win back in league play, but had to settle for a point apiece in a scoreless draw from Foxborough.
Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s results:
Red Bulls 1 – NYCFC 0
The New York Red Bulls picked up its first win since Matchday 1 of the MLS is Back Tournament after defeating its biggest rivals at Red Bull Arena.
Kyle Duncan’s second-half goal was all Chris Armas’ side needed to earn a 1-0 victory on home soil. Both teams had ample chances in the opening half, but both goalkeepers made a pair of saves to keep things scoreless going into halftime.
Duncan’s shot from outside of the box was mishandled by NYCFC’s Sean Johnson before trickling over the goal line. VAR ruled in favor of the goal, which was the right back’s first goal since opening weekend in March.
NYCFC looked for an equalizer, but failed to record a shot on goal in the remaining 30+ minutes. Johnson made six saves for NYCFC, whom easily could’ve lost by much more if it wasn’t for the veteran’s heroics.
The Red Bulls next travel to the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 25th while NYCFC hosts the Columbus Crew at RBA on the 24th.
Crew 3 – Fire 0
(Etienne 20′, Nagbe 81′, Zardes 88′)
Caleb Porter’s Columbus Crew put their unbeaten 2020 league record on the line and were not tested by the Chicago Fire.
Still working through an implementation under new coach Raphael Wicky, the Fire were blessed with the opportunity to play the Crew without its emerging superstar Lucas Zelarayan, but found themselves unable to cover the other weapons in the Columbus cabinet.
After hanging tough in the opening phase, the deadlock was broken in the 20th minute when Milton Valenzuela sent a ball in from the wing and it skipped in to find an isolated Derrick Etienne Jr who poked it past a diving Bobby Shuttleworth on the far side.
Chicago did not do itself any favors closing out the half, but a gift was granted.
Fire defender Angel Navarro put a hard challenge on Luis Diaz in the box, seconds before the halftime whistle, but the ensuing Gyasi Zardes PK soared above the bar.
After holding tough for a while in the second half, the Fire were blitzed with an onslaught from the Crew to close out the evening.
Not unusually, Darlington Nagbe was quiet and playing his signature brand of defensive support in the first half but decided to strut his offensive stylings in the 81st minute. From thin air, Nagbe flicked the ball up to himself well outside the box and rocketed it past Shuttleworth to double the lead and kill off any thoughts of a Chicago comeback.
Making up for his first-half blunder, Zardes had the final say with a tap-in in the 88th minute thanks to service from Pedro Santos from within the box.
Columbus travels to NYCFC on Aug. 24th while Chicago hosts FC Cincinnati on the 25th.
Revolution 0 – Union 0
The Revolution and Union shared the points after a scoreless draw in Foxborough, which saw both teams have good chances to steal all three.
Gustavo Bou had a shot in the penalty area turned away in the ninth minute by Union goalkeeper Andre Blake while Adam Buksa hit the woodwork four minutes later for the Revolution. The Union’s backline led by Mark McKenzie and Jack Elliott, blocked eight shots on the night to keep the pressure off the ever-busy Blake.
Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner had five saves on the night, the best of which was steering away Matt Real’s long-range strike in the 56th minute.
The lone bright spot for the Revs was the club debut of Matt Polster, whom was acquired from Scottish side Rangers earlier this summer.
Both teams resume their busy league schedules next week.