The Red Bulls knew they were in for a tough battle against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, and that’s exactly what happened in Talen Energy Stadium, which saw New York come away with a 1-0 win against a formidable Union club.
Both teams are playing for playoff positioning, with the Red Bulls in pursuit of the Supporters’ Shield, and the Union battling for a top-3 seed.
The match saw five bookings, two on the Red Bulls side and three on the Union side. Before the half ended, players had to be separated, but no one was sent off.
Both teams went into the half level at zero, but before the half ended, players from both sides had to be separated, after some players got tangled inside the box, which Head Coach Chris Armas saw as a positive for his squad going into the locker room.
“I can live comfortably, being uncomfortable,” Armas said. "We’ve managed to grow more comfortable being pushed back. They had nine shots from outside the box tonight. We were defending and it’s a little bit uncomfortable for some, but yeah, I actually like the way we ended the half, with a little bit of fire that we were lacking for a lot of the first half."
The Red Bulls were awarded a penalty kick off their corner kick, when a Union player was called for a hand ball inside the box. Kaku converted his second penalty-kick goal, and the sixth-game winning goal of the season in the 69th minute.
When asked about his game-winning goal and where he gets the confidence to step up in those big moments. Kaku gave the credit to his teammates.
“I get the confidence from my teammates who are always supporting me,” Kaku said. “It gives me that motivation to take it and not be afraid in those moments.”
The last time Kaku attempted a penalty kick, it was against Atlanta United, and saved by goalkeeper Brad Guzan, but this time around Kaku converted, which according to Armas speaks to the type of player he is to be able to put that in the back of his mind and take the next one with confidence.
“His courage, he had a penalty last time it was saved,” Armas said. “This time he took it with courage and personality and that’s what makes him different. He’s so important not just his leadership but he can hold the ball and knows where to show up. You can’t underestimate that talent.”
Another bright spot that came with the win was Captain Luis Robles winning his 100th MLS game, becoming the eighth goalkeeper to reach the milestone.
After the match Robles spoke briefly with the media about his achievement, but re-directed the focus back to the team and the goals they’ve set out.
“All of it matters, at the end of the day it all plays into our success but at the end of the day our measuring stick is trophies,” Robles said. “We have an opportunity this season to win two trophies and we have made it difficult having it lead to the last weekend but that means we need to get a result. We take pride in how we defend and want that momentum to transition into playoffs.”