Philadelphia Union Get Vital Point against New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia Union

photo via Philadelphia Union’s twitter.

The weather played a major part of this major Eastern Conference showdown between rivals Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls.  The game, which was on national television, was delayed for an hour due to rain and standing water on PPL Park’s field.  The rain ended just before kickoff but that left almost no time for grounds crew personnel to try and clear up some of the water.  Union fans were very unhappy with the decision, but the game was pushed back an hour and the field was in better shape by the new kickoff time.

The host Union, in sixth place at kickoff, had the first chance of the game after just 25 seconds when Andrew Wenger headed just wide of the New York goal.  The early minutes saw both teams adapting to the sloppy conditions in which players slipped and sloshed around and the ball would be slowed by puddles.  As the game went on the puddles would turn to mud but the conditions improved enough to not be a factor.

New York scored first in the 37th minute courtesy of a Peguy Luyindula penalty kick.  Union center back Ethan White was whistled for impeding Luyindula in the box, but the Union and the boisterous crowd felt otherwise.

Replays showed that White did have his arm in an obstructing position but Luyindula appeared to have shoved his way past White first.

Just three minutes later Thierry Henry doubled the lead with a blast form about twenty yards that bounced right in front of Zac MacMath and past him into the net.  MacMath had been playing well of late but this was definitely a goal he would want to have back.  Just a minute later, however, the Union cut the lead in half with some nice hustle play by rookie Pedro Ribeiro.  Wenger played in a low cross from the left that defender Jamison Olave attempted to clear but it hit Ribeiro and caromed into the net for his first career goal.

The second half saw the Union increase the attacking pressure by bringing on Sebastien LeToux, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. Union interim manager had made several lineup changes for the game in anticipation of Tuesday’s Open Cup final.  LeToux, Maidana and Nogueira began on the bench along with Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes.  Conor Casey and Rais M’Bolhi did not dress.  The Union had several chances to tie the game but Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made several big saves, especially on shots by Wenger and Maurice Edu late.

Early in stoppage time a clumsy challenge by New York defender Ibrahim Sekagya on Ribeiro led to another controversial penalty call.  New York felt he didn’t actually touch Ribeiro but most replays showed he did.  LeToux buried the tying goal and is now perfect on twelve penalty kicks in MLS play.  In the end it was a good, tense match and the Union secured a vital point which keeps them in playoff hunt. They are currently in sixth place due to a tiebreaker.

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