It was a tightly-contested match but Philadelphia were able to edge New York to win their third shutout of 2011.
In front of a record crowd of 19,027 at PPL Park in Chester, the Union held on to their slim lead for most of the second half thanks to some strong defended and organized play all across the pitch.
The lone goal in the match was scored by young Roger Torres who came on in the second half and made an instant impact with the tally that was gifted to him thanks to a mistake from Red Bulls defender Tim Ream.
With a packed house looking on, the Union and Red Bulls got things off to a quick start with both teams pressing and chasing down every ball like it was their. Philadelphia were the team with the first big chance and it came barely two minutes into the match.
Taking the ball from the midfield line, Union forward Carlos Ruiz got his head up and fired a piercing ball at Bouna Coundoul’s net. The Senegalese keeper darted back towards his line to see the impressive deep effort glide barely over the crossbar.
Ruiz’s chance seemed to pump even more life into the teams as they both continued to work the ball around nicely, testing one another’s resolve through the middle areas of the pitch. New York had slightly more possession in the beginning stages of the match but weren’t able to create anything concrete, at least not right away.
The Union were able to create the next chance as in the 17th minute Justin Mapp won a free kick on the far side of the Red Bulls’ penalty box. Whipping the ball across the area, Mapp was able to guide it by the New York defense to Danny Califf at the far post. His scuffed effort in a crowd of bodies harmlessly sliced by the far post.
Hans Backe’s men were not to be outdone by the home side though and had opportunity to open the scoring in the first half. Working the ball down the right side of the field, newly-acquired Dwayne DeRosario was able to find striker Juan Agudelo in the area unmarked. Turning on the ball like a seasoned veteran, Agudelo fired a low shot to the far post. Planted to his spot, Mondragon watched the ball clip his far post and go wide.
Keeping up the pressure at the other end, Philadelphia had another chance come off the boot of Ruiz, who was apparently in quite the shooting mood on Saturday. Taking a nice flick off the boot of Mapp about 35 yards out, Ruiz blasted another cultured shot on Coundoul who gathered with a hint of trepidation.
New York were the team that came the closest to scoring in the first half however and it was Agudelo again testing the Union’s backline with his pace and understanding. Bursting through the middle, the 17-year-old caught onto the ball and proceeded to edge his way around Califf. Charging in on Mondragon, the young forward placed a shot over the falling Mondragon only to see it clang off the crossbar. It’d be as close as either team would come to scoring in the opening period.
The teams battled for the half’s remaining minutes but neither were able to break the deadlock as they headed into the locker rooms all square.
Things got off to a quick start in the second as Sebastien Le Toux found himself involved for the first time. Charging down the right and fighting off Red Bulls’ defender Roy Miller, Le Toux skipped to the end line and put a cross in that Coundoul almost deflected into his own net.
New York didn’t take long to respond as Henry and Lindpere created a chance in the Union area. Working hard to retain possession was Henry who let the ball skip out of the area to Lindpere who fired a low driven shot at Mondragon who watched it go wide.
The teams continued to push through the middle portion of the half, with Philadelphia gaining the edge in possession. Neither side were able to make much happen however as the minutes slowly slipped off the clock.
As tightly as the match was played, things quickly changed in the 68th minute when an errant pass from Tim Ream was picked up by second half sub Danny Mwanga. Attacking the Red Bulls’ net in a two-on-one situation with Roger Torres, who was also just brought on, Mwanga was able to beat Ream and then proceeded to put the ball at Torres’ feet. Making no mistake inside the area, the Colombian fired the ball under Coundoul to give Philadelphia the 1-0 lead.
Realizing that the clock wasn’t on their side, the visiting Red Bulls began to press the Union for an equalizer and subsequently held a good amount of the ball in the latter stages. Defending honorably, the home side did well at shutting them down at nearly every turn.
They weren’t able to break down a stingy Union defense in the match’s final moments though as Peter Nowak’s side held strong and have already shown how improved they are at the back this season from a year ago.
The 1-0 result was the Union’s third this season and they’ve already topped their shutouts total from all of their inaugural year in the league.
Up next for Philadelphia is the Seattle Sounders who will come to PPL Park on April 16th. New York return home for their next as they’ll take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena.
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