MONTCLAIR, N.J. (September 25, 2023) - New York Red Bulls II (14-8-6, 51 pts.) fell at home to Philadelphia Union II (12-12-4, 42 pts.), 3-1, on Sunday afternoon during Decision Day for MLS NEXT Pro.
While Red Bulls II had already clinched a spot in the playoffs heading into yesterday’s contest, there was still opportunity to improve the club’s seeding and move up into the top three spots of the conference. On the other hand, Philly needed a positive result to give them the chance at the playoffs, and a win would secure their spot at the seventh seed.
Union II had the better of New York in both matchups between these two sides before yesterday, having won each match by a score of 2-1. Both clubs were looking for points on a rainy Sunday in Montclair, and the battle began immediately from the opening whistle.
After the teams traded chances to start the match, the scoring would eventually begin in the 20th minute. Philly midfielder Jeremy Rafanello stepped up to take a free kick from around 20 yards out and curled one around the right side of the wall to find the near post and put his side up one.
It looked like the score line would stay at just 1-0 going into halftime, but Union II had other plans. After New York struggled to clear the ball out of the defensive zone, Hugo Le Guennec ripped a shot from distance that doubled Philadelphia’s lead headed into the break.
New York managed to increase their attacking chances for a majority of the second half, but still were not able to get on the scoresheet. It wasn’t until substitutions were made that Red Bulls II started to gain consistent momentum in the attacking third.
In the 73rd minute, New York suddenly had life, courtesy of substitutes Julian Hall and Juan Mina. Mina, who was making his club debut, received a pass from Peter Stroud and whipped in a cross that found Hall in the middle of the box for the finish. Now only down one, Red Bulls II began to claw back in the match.
As was the story in the beginning of the second half, New York had most of the offensive chances, but were unable to find the back of the net for a second time. Philadelphia would put the game out of reach with a goal from David Vazquez in the 92nd minute to make the score 3-1.
New York Red Bulls II will now shift their focus on the playoffs as they await their matchup for the first round. The club will have their first match on the road if they are picked by either New England Revolution II or Columbus Crew 2. If not, they will host whichever team is left over at MSU Soccer Park on a date TBD.
All coverage for the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs will be on MLS Season Pass with Apple TV.