HARRISON, N.J. – Just like in 2013, the New York Red Bulls snapped out of their winless funk to start the season by beating the Philadelphia Union.
The win did not come easy, though.
A 10-man Red Bulls team picked up their much-anticipated first victory of the season on Wednesday night with a 2-1 win over the Union at Red Bull Arena. New York were up 2-0 late, but a 78th-minute red card to Ibrahim Sekagya gave Philadelphia a penalty kick that brought them back into the game.
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Sekagya was sent off for denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity by referee Ricardo Salazar. Sekagya dove to a block a shot from Maurice Edu after some chaos in the penalty area, but the ball smacked off Sekagya’s flailing arm and resulted in a penalty kick, converted by Sebastien Le Toux.
New York, however, hung on and won their first match of the season to improve to 1-2-4. The Union, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2-4 with the loss.
The two sides played to a scoreless first half in which neither was sharp in the final third, but the second stanza was a different story.
Thierry Henry opened the scoring off a good passing sequence that ended with surprise starting left midfielder Eric Alexander feeding a streaking Roy Miller, who in turn squared a ball to an unmarked Henry. The goal was the Frenchman’s second of the season.
Bradley Wright-Phillips then looked to have made it 2-0 with a header in the 61st minute, but he was correctly whistled for offside on the play.
The next New York header stood, however.
Alexander dribbled towards the goal line in the 67th minute before clipping a ball to the backpost, where substitute Tim Cahill and Lloyd Sam both were lurking. Sam somehow beat Cahill, who made his return from a hamstring injury in the 62nd, to the ball and nodded home the eventual winner with a Cahill-esque effort.
The Red Bulls looked to be cruising to a win, but then came the red card to Sekagya. A fallen Jamison Olave cleared the ball into the path of Edu following a shot that smacked off the post, and that resulted in the penalty kick and red card for Sekagya.
New York would endure some nervy moments in the end, but held on strong for the full three points as the Union couldn't get a good enough chance to level the score in the game's dying minutes.
The Union face a short turnaround as they return to action on Saturday with a home game against the Houston Dynamo, who will then head north to play the Red Bulls in their next game next Wednesday.
New York Red Bulls 2, Philadelphia Union 1
April 16, 2014
MLS Regular Season
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
NY: Thierry Henry 2 (Roy Miller 1, Eric Alexander 2) 57’
NY: Lloyd Sam 1 (Eric Alexander 3) 67’
PHI: Sebastien Le Toux 2 (penalty kick) 80’
PHI: Fabinho (caution) 17’
NY: Ibrahim Sekagya (red card, ejection) 78’
NY: Jamison Olave (caution) 82’
NY: Thierry Henry (caution) 89’
New York Red Bulls (1-2-4, 7 pts.): Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jamison Olave, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula (Tim Cahill 57’), Eric Alexander, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Armando 80’), Thierry Henry (Jonny Steele 94’+)
Substitutes not used: Ryan Meara, Connor Lade, Eric Stevenson, Ruben Bover
Philadelphia Union (1-2-4, 7 pts.): Zac MacMath, Raymon Gaddis, Aaron Wheeler, Amobi Okugo, Maurice Edu, Cristian Maidana (Antoine Hoppenot 76’), Leonardo Fernandes (Michael Lahoud 76’), Sebastien Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira, Andrew Wenger (Conor Casey 66’)
Substitutes not used: Andre Blake, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Austin Berry
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: Peter Manikowski, Craig Lowry
4th Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eric Alexander||Was integral in setting up both of the Red Bulls' goals, and showed why he's been an underrated passer|
|2||Lloyd Sam||Played his way into the game, and proved to be too much for the Union to handle in the second half, with a headed winner to cap it off|
|3||Cristian Maidana||If only his teammates had been able to finish chances, the Argentine may have drawn the headlines for his strong passing|