After a rather disappointing display north of the border on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Union came into their match on Sunday against New York Red Bull in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia holds a very dominant record at home and came ready to play against one of their biggest rivals. With FC Cincinnati sitting comfortably atop the standings, Philadelphia was looking to jump New England and Orlando City to take hold of second place. Philadelphia needed to get a win going into the abbreviated international break before they finished this stretch run of the season, in which they play most of their matches at home.
Chippy First Half
It was a very chippy first half. A yellow card was assessed to New York’s Sam Nealis in the sixth minute. Not too long after, in the 12th minute, a blocked shot by center-back Damion Lowe came right back to the foot of Omir Fernandez. He put the goal away to give New York the 1-0 lead early on. Philadelphia would respond in the 29th minute. Kai Wagner sent in a corner kick that bounced around and ended up on the foot of Union defender Jakub Glesnes. He would bury the goal to level the game at 1-1.
Some more chippy play between the two teams would lead to a takeaway by Philadelphia. Sam Nealis of New York gets whistled for a handball on a lead pass intended for Mikael Uhre. The referee would show Nealis his second yellow of the match only 44 minutes in. The New York defender was sent off leaving his team down a man. It looked like Philadelphia would capitalize in added time at the end of the first half with a goal by Julian Carranza, but a VAR check would call the goal off as Julian was deemed offside. The first half would come to a close with the match tied 1-1.
On to the Second
Philadelphia would open the game up in the second half as Damion Lowe and Julian Carranza would score a minute apart to put Philadelphia ahead 3-1. The Union would then get two players on for their MLS debuts. New signing Tai Baribo and Union 2 product Jeremy Rafanello would both be subbed on. Rafanello would come on after Daniel Gazdag scored off of a well-timed run and then went down clutching his knee. Baribo would get his “welcome to the league” moment as he was shown a yellow card in the 80th minute. With the crowd at Subaru Park being heavily behind their team, the final whistle would blow. The Union won by a final score of 4-1.
In the End…
This match was exactly what the expectation of a Union-Red Bull late-season rivalry match. Chippy play, red cards, and aggression from the Union attack. With the win, Philadelphia Union got the bounce back they needed. With this international break coming up, this gives some of the players who were hurt in this game (Gazdag and Uhre, specifically) time to heal up. The Union can be ready for a stretch of games that include FC Cincinnati and LAFC. We’re in the stretch run to the MLS Cup playoffs, every match and every point counts from here on out.