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Philadelphia Union feel shutout win over New York Red Bulls sends a message to rest of MLS

CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth was already well aware how big Sunday’s nationally televised showdown with the New York Red Bulls was in terms of climbing up the standings and gaining more league-wide respect.

But if he needed any reminders, he got a big one during a recent visit to a local convenience store.

“I had a guy come up to me at Wawa this week,” Hackworth said after Sunday's match. “He didn’t say hello. He didn’t introduce himself. He just grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, you better beat New York.’”

The blunt fan got his wish.

And following Philly’s 3-0 win over the rival Red Bulls at PPL Park, Hackworth hopes his wish of getting more respect comes true, too.

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“I feel like I’ve been up here a lot this year trying to talk about how we think we’re a good team,” the Union manager said. “And on a day like today, I think hopefully we’ve won a little bit of respect.”

Hackworth admitted it certainly helped that the Red Bulls were without three key players in Tim Cahill (groin), Juninho (yellow card accumulation) and Jamison Olave (red cards suspension) and then went down a man when Lloyd Sam was shown a red card in the 28th minute.

But he was also thrilled the Union were able to “put the game on our terms” from the start and noted that it’s still “awful hard to beat a team with the quality of the Red Bulls” even when they’re shorthanded.

“They have a ton of talent on their team and they’ve definitely done well the past couple of years,” Union defender Sheanon Williams said. “I know we’ve talked in our locker room about getting respect. And I think this is how you do it. You beat the teams that are in front of you and you beat the teams that are supposed to be better than you.”

From his right back position, Williams helped spearhead a defensive effort that didn’t allow a shot on target and led Philly to its fifth shutout of the season.

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Williams also recorded his fourth assist of the year on one of Conor Casey’s two goals, while Sebastien Le Toux added an assist on an Antoine Hoppenot goal.

All in all, it was a complete performance for the Union, who didn’t even need co-Golden Boot leader Jack McInerney to find the back of the net to pick up their second straight 3-0 victory in league play and move into second place in the Eastern Conference.

And for McInerney, that was just fine.

“It feels really good,” McInerney said of the win. “We expected it from ourselves. And I think we sent a message around the league today.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.