Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
There would be no joy for the PPL Park faithful on the afternoon the 2012 season closed, with the visiting Red Bulls pounding the Union 3-0. After scoring two goals on a canter before the half, the Red Bulls put the final nail in the Union’s coffin despite sitting back in a defensive shell during the second half.
When Carlos Valdes felled Tim Cahill in the box, Kenny Cooper opened the scoring in the 12th minute, blasting his penalty beyond Zac MacMath. The other two New York goals came courtesy of midfield breakdowns from the Union. First Michael Lahoud’s turnover gifted Henry possession just outside the Union box. Skipping past Valdes, the Frenchman made no mistake, doubling the visitor’s advantage. Lastly, it was Cooper who benefited from Brian Carroll’s turnover to Cahill, receiving the ball from Dax McCarty before cutting his shot back across his body and inside the Union keeper’s far post.
With Gabriel Farfan and Sheanon Williams still unavailable through injury, John Hackworth made only one change to the side who last in Kansas City midweek. Michael Lahoud slid back to his regular slot next to Brian Carroll while Chris Albright, perhaps playing his final professional match, took over in defense.
Though they had little to play for, the Union came out quickly looking for the opening goal. Michael Farfan’s curving cross into Jack McInerney found the striker just offsides minutes before Keon Daniel’s through ball to Danny Cruz was just too heavy.
The Union’s attacking momentum would be short lived however. Carlos Valdes reacted quickly to Heath Pearce’s cutback into the box for Cahill, sliding in to block the effort. Cahill was back to his feet first however, retrieving the ball before being brought down by Valdes. There was little complaint and Kenny Cooper stepped up, sending a powerful drive past MacMath, who had guessed correctly, to open the scoring.
Settling into possession, New York looked to slow the match to their pace, moving the ball wide before attacking through the center of the park. Cahill, Henry, Lindpere and McCarty took turns running at the heart of the Union defense, but in the 19th minute, the Union had a chance to level the scores.
Immediately upon intercepting the ball in midfield, Keon Daniel spied McInerney breaking forward and despite playing the Union’s lone forward in behind, McInerney was unable to keep the ball in front of him, allowing Markus Holgersson to close the gap and clear the danger.
All of the Union’s efforts were focused on McInerney, but the striker was receiving the ball too far from goal. In the 27th minute Lahoud played him into space, but collecting the ball 35 yards from goal, the Red Bulls defense had plenty of space to scramble and cover.
With New York looking to counter off of Union mistakes, Lahoud’s 35 minute double-gaffe gifted the visitors a two goal lead. Receiving the ball from Gaddis, Lahoud took extra touches in the middle of the field, not only turning the ball over, but also poking the ball past Amobi Okugo who was arriving to cover. With time and space at the top of the box, Henry easily juked past Valdes before burying his shot beyond a helpless MacMath.
New York was in cruise control, with Cahill nearly making it three when he rose highest on a corner, sending his header just wide of the far post.
But the Union failed to quit and registered the final three chances of the half. First, after stripping Marquez on the touchline, Daniel barreled in on Luis Robles’ goal from the right wing. With the option to shoot, play in McInerney racing to the far post, or cut the ball back for Cruz who was arriving at the penalty spot, Daniel chose no option, shockingly dribbling directly towards goal without making any play to move the ball goalward.
After the Union had a corner cleared, Okugo looked to keep the pressure on in the final third, sending Albright dashing up the left touchline to send a curling cross into the box. McInerney separated from his defender but could not rise high enough to direct his header on goal, instead rocketing his chance over the bar.
Michael Farfan grabbed the last chance of the first half, accepting the ball from Daniel. Lindpere was quick to react however, sliding in to deflect Farfan’s blast.
With goals on his mind, Hackworth removed Lahoud, reshaping his team into a 4-4-2 with Antoine Hoppenot joining McInerney up front. The Union were quickly on the attack and when McInerney smartly left the ball for Cruz, he picked out McInerney at the back post only to see the striker fail to get sufficient power behind his header.
Keon Daniel had an open look at Robles’ net in the 50th minute after he was picked out by Farfan. With the entire goal to aim for, Daniel missed everything, ballooning a poor shot over the bar.
Suddenly, the Union were camped out in the attacking third as they sought out an opener and it nearly arrived in the 56th minute. After seeing a corner cleared, Farfan picked out Valdes, who had stayed forward, lingering at the back post. Landing the ball on his head, the Union captain’s looping header beat Robles only to bouncr off the top of the crossbar.
The chances were coming fast and furious when Farfan picked off the ball in midfield and sent Cruz to the races. With three players streaming into the box, however, Cruz took the wrong option, electing to try his luck from distance, unleashing a shot that was easily blocked away by the Red Bulls defense.
It seemed inevitable that the Union would cut the Red Bulls’ lead in half until the 66th minute when another midfield mistake put the game out of reach. Playing deep out of his own half, Brian Carroll drilled his clearance into the body of Tim Cahill and while the Union complained for handball, Cooper picked up possession. Unluckily for the Union, Carroll’s recovering tackle fell to the feet of McCarty who poked the ball into the box for Cooper, who had continued his run. Held onside by Valdes, Cooper did well to turn his hips and shoot for the back post, guiding his shot past MacMath, who was caught cheating on the play.
Playing only for pride, the Union continued their assault on the Red Bulls goal, but found their finishing lacking at each opportunity. First, Carroll’s flicked header at the near post from Roger Torres’ corner flew agonizingly to the wrong side of the post. Next it was Danny Cruz’s turn to try his luck after McInerney won the ball in midfield. Laying it off for Torres, the Colombian freed up Cruz for an open look, but the Union winger drilled his shot well wide of the mark.
With the Union sporting a three man backline, Okugo tried his luck going forward, doing well to play Daniel into the box. The Trinidadian was loath to pull the trigger however, and the Union settled for a corner.
Torres nearly sprung McInerney in the 81st minute as the Union continued to play balls deep behind the back four, but Robles was quick to react, claiming the ball before McInerney could track it down. Minutes later, Robles was again sharp, this time denying Hoppenot after the diminutive striker had raced into the box.
In the final minute of regulation, McInerney summed up the Union’s season when he missed a sitter. After Farfan found Cruz powering forward on the right wing, Cruz served the ball to the back post. With New York scrambling to recover, McInerney had time to settle the ball inside the New York six-yard box. Somehow he missed the target, pushing his shot across the face of goal, concluding an afternoon on which the Union managed to direct only 2 of their 15 shots on target.
Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Chris Albright (Roger Torres ’63); Michael Lahoud (Antoine Hoppenot ’46), Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Zach Pfeffer ’86), Danny Cruz; Jack McInerney
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chandler Hoffman, Gabriel Gomez, Jimmy McLaughlin
New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Markus Holgersson, Rafael Marquez, Heath Pearce; Joel Lindpere (Jan Gunnar Solli ’64), Tim Cahill, Teemu Tainio, Dax McCarty (Roy Miller ’89); Kenny Cooper (Sebastien Le Toux ’74), Thierry Henry
Unused substitutes: Stephen Keel, Bill Gaudette, Tyler Ruthven, Digao
13 – NYRB: Cooper (penalty)
35 – NYRB: Henry
67 – NYRB: Cooper (McCarty)
61 – NYRB: Marquez (caution)
90 – NYRB: Henry (caution)
|Philadelphia Union||New York Red Bulls|
|15||Attempts on Goal||6|
|2||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||1|
|25||Open Play Crosses||12|
|0||First Yellow Cards||2|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|47%||Duels Won %||52%|
|83%||Passing Accuracy %||80%|