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Defensive mistake helps Union shut down Red Bulls

Just a few days after squeaking past NYCFC 1-0, the New York Red Bulls travel down I-95 to Subaru Park to clash with the Philadelphia Union. A team that eliminated them in the First Round of the Eastern Conference MLS Playoffs last October. Marco Fabian's goal in extra time completed the come-from-behind victory and sent the Red Bulls to a bitter off-season.

Other than looking for three valuable points in a critical conference match, one would be forgiven if revenge isn't on the minds of coach Chris Armas and his team. But the facility that began life as Talen Energy Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Red Bulls as of late, just winning two out of the last five matches played in Chester, with their last victory was two seasons ago, a 1-0 result thanks to Kaku's converted penalty kick in the 65th minute.

Defensive mistake, Union capitalizes

With both teams playing similar styles, one would anticipate a lot of action on the pitch, but both teams effectively disrupted each other's rhythm, giving each other very little in the midfield to mount an attack. That all changed in the 31st minute when defender Kyle Duncan committed the cardinal sin of caught ball-watching, while an unmarked Kasper Przbylko received a great pass from Raymond Gaddis, who then split the defenders, pounding ball in the back of the net to give the Union a 1-0 lead.

Red Bulls did have a golden chance to equalize off a corner kick, but the floating ball was cleared off the line by Kasper Przbylko. Przbylko was involved yet again, where off a corner, ball punching around, finally finding his feet in front of the net, but his shot went right in goalkeeper Ryan Meara's hands to end the potential scoring threat and the first half.

Frenetic Pace, Union bend, but don't break

In the second half, Brian White and Jared Stroud were subbed off for Tom Barlow and Kaku and it made a difference. The Red Bulls looked like a different team as they pressed for the equalizer early on. But just like he was in the first half, Kasper Przbylko was once again a handful for the Red Bulls' defenders. Of a nifty back heel pass to open Sergio Santos in the box, giving him a on a one-on-one opportunity to put the match away, but Ryan Meara was up to the task. 

Red Bulls would continue to press for a goal but each attempt was denied by the stout Union defense. Off a corner kick, New York's chances were hot and heavy, first Florian Valot's shot was denied by a block by Warren Crevalle, followed by Kaku's chance that was stopped by Jack Elliott then finally Mathias Jorgenson's feeble shot was denied by Andre Blake. That frenetic exchange was the highlight of the Red Bulls being shut out for ththird time this evening as they climbed on the bus for a long ride back to North Jersey.

Final Thoughts:

In a match that was going to be as tight as this, one mistake by either team was going to be costly. Falling asleep defensively by ball watching was a cardinal sin. Add the ongoing finishing issues and you have all the ingredients of a frustrating evening for the Red Bulls supporters. ALl credit to Philadelphia, they took advantage of that gift just as the Red Bulls did against NYCFC three nights ago and rode their defense to three points. 

by Garry Redman


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