|photo by Matt Kremkau
Daniel Gazdag and Luquinhas traded second-half goals as the New York Red Bulls were able to escape Subaru Field with a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union, extending their unbeaten streak to eight matches on the road. The Red Bulls arrived in Chester sitting a point behind the Eastern Conference leading Union, and head coach Gerhard Struber set the stage by highlighting the importance of the fixture.
The match began as expected with the Red Bulls on the front foot early on, but the Union were able to keep pace and hold the visitors contained mostly in the midfield. The Union had a brief chance in the 22nd minute off a corner-kick. The ball was served in the box and New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel tried to get a hand on it. He couldn't and it bounced around freely, but Philadelphia's Sergio Santos could not get a hold of it, and the Red Bulls escaped the initial attack by the hosts.
The two sides remained locked in a stalemate as the whistle blew ending the first half.
In a tight match like this one, a mistake would be the only thing that could break the stalemate. That happened in the 47th minute when Dylan Nealis tried the clear the ball only to give it away in the middle of the box where Daniel Gazdag pounced on it and scored his sixth of the season to put the Union in front.
Things went bad to worse for the visitors in the 55th minute when Dylan Nealis was shown a second yellow card after a rough challenge to Sergio Santos, ending his evening and with that and sending the Red Bulls down to ten men.
After surviving a wild offensive onslaught by the Union, New York nearly went down two goals. Thanks to the efforts of defender Sean Nealis who saved a shot off the line in front of a wide-open net, the Red Bulls began to mount a comeback. In the 66th minute, defender Cameron Harper dashed down the sideline and found Luquinhas in the box who then blasted the shot in the upper part of the net to level the match.
A major turning point then happened in the 80th when Corey Burke's header was first denied by Coronel only for Union forward Julian Carranza to head the ball into the net. A check by VAR and the goal was disallowed after Carranza was found the be in an offside position during the play.
The Union mounted one last attack with 10 minutes to go when Burke had a chance to snatch all three points for the home side. Once again, Coronel stood firm, making the point-blank save to preserve the draw. While their winning streak comes to an end, the Red Bulls, despite going down a man and looking like they were going to end this winning streak with a loss, stood strong with a hard-fought, well-earned 1-1 draw.
THE BIG PICTURE:
Any way you slice it, this was a massive point for the Red Bulls. Going down a man and getting this result against a team considered by many, including head coach Gerhard Struber, as the class of the Eastern Conference should be a boost.
Now, eight matches played on the road without a loss, the team is looking forward to finally getting a win in front of their supporters at home on Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire FC.