Alex Muyl and Bradley Wright-Phillips tallied for the Red Bulls as New York defeated Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Sunday in the final regular season match of the season.
Despite the loss, the Union officially clinched their first playoff berth in five seasons, finishing 6th in the Eastern Conference. They will travel to Toronto in a midweek play-in match.
Jim Curtin made a handful of changes to the team that lost to Orlando last Sunday, choosing to rest some regular starters with a midweek playoff game. Eric Ayuk made his first MLS appearance of the season, Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, and Warren Creavalle also all started while Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, Chris Pontius, and C.J. Sapong were named to the subs bench.
Maurice Edu was injured in practice on Saturday and was unavailable. Jim Curtin confirmed after the match that midfielder had fractured his fibula when his cleat got caught in the turf during training. The club captain had not played a match all season and was due to start today’s game.
The Union would have a good chance to open the scoring in just the 3rd minute. Fabian Herbers did well to work the ball into the Red Bulls box, and it fell to Roland Alberg near the penalty spot. The midfielder did well to turn and shoot, but his effort skimmed just wide of the left post.
The Red Bulls would take the lead in the 26th minute. Aurelien Collin lofted a ball over the top of the Union defense that Wright-Phillips would latch onto just outside the Union box. It appeared Ken Tribbett tried to play an offside trap but Fabinho kept the striker on. Wright-Phillips chipped the ball over the onrushing Andre Blake and finished into the open net for his 24th goal of the season.
Philadelphia would have a chance to equalize right after the New York goal. Fabian Herbers drove into the Red Bull’s box with the ball, and after a last ditch tackle, the ball fell to Ilsinho on the edge of the area. The Brazilian fired a shot that was redirected onto the New York goal, but Luis Robles was able to save and then clear before Alberg could find the rebound.
New York almost doubled their lead in the 43rd minute. Fabinho slipped inside the Union area and gifted the ball to Alex Muyl, who fired a shot from 10 yards that beat Blake but hit the crossbar and bounced out.
The Union would have a great chance to draw level in the 46th minute. After a ball floated toward the far post was missed by Eric Ayuk, Roland Alberg found the loose ball and fired a shot off the near post from the right side that somehow stayed out.
The Red Bulls would take a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute through Muyl. Dax McCarty made a run to the endline and backheeled a pass into the path of Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan calmly slid a pass across the six-yard box and Muyl was able to beat Blake low to the left side.
Barnetta and Sapong were introduced for Ilsinho and Fabian Herbers respectively as Philly tried to find a way back into the game. The closest they would come was Ayuk’s stinging shot from 18 yards in the 83rd minute that Robles had to push over the top of his goal.
As the final whistle rang out, a smattering of boos came from the stands as the Union officially clinched a playoff spot for the first time in five seasons.
Philadelphia will travel to 3rd seeded Toronto as the 6th seed on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.). The Union finish the 2016 regular season on 42 points (11-9-14).
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle (Brian Carroll 46′), Alejandro Bedoya, Roland Alberg, Ilsinho (Tranquillo Barnetta 62′), Eric Ayuk, Fabian Herbers (C.J. Sapong 76′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Chris Pontius
New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles, Damien Perrinelle, Aurelien Collin, Chris Duvall, Kemar Lawrence, Felipe, Dac McCarty, Alex Muyl (Sal Zizzo 88′), Mike Grella (Omer Demari 62′), Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Gonzalo Veron 69′)
Unused subs: Roland Zubar, Klye Reynish, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sean Davis
NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips (Aurelien Collin) – 26
NY: Alex Muyl – 57′
PHI: Ilsinho (argument) — 22′
NY: Mike Grella (argument) — 22′
PHI: Warren Creavalle (unsporting behavior) — 45+1′
NY: Damien Perrinelle (unsporting behavior) –54′
PHI: Ken Tribbett (unsporting behavior) — 78′
|Philadelphia Union||New York Red Bulls|
|5||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||2|
|42%||Duels Won %||58%|