HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union both could have created some more breathing room in the tight Eastern Conference with a win on Saturday. But neither was able to do so.
The I-95 rivals played to a scoreless stalemate at Red Bull Arena in front of an announced sell-out crowd of 25,355 that saw Philadelphia bag a point in their closest rivals' home for the first time in five tries. Both sides had chances to pull ahead in the second half but lacked that final bit of precision and luck in the final third.
The result leaves the Red Bulls tied with Sporting Kansas City for first place in the jam-packed East, but Sporting KC still have to play on Sunday. The Union, meanwhile, fall to fourth after the Montreal Impact’s victory over D.C. United earlier on Saturday. The season series between New York and Philadelphia also ends even at 1-1-1.
In a rather uneventful first half, both teams showed plenty of energy but each struggled to find quality looks on goal. Conor Casey came closest to scoring for the Union on a couple of occasions, but a fifth-minute shot was too weak to really trouble Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and another effort from close range was denied well by surprise starter Ibrahim Sekagya.
New York had a late opportunity to pull ahead when Jonny Steele whipped in a cross from the left flank, but Fabián Espíndola’s header was pushed over the crossbar with ease by Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
Steele was also involved in another pair of good chances in the second half. He first missed on a shot from an angle at the hour-mark before failing to hit the frame on another opportunity in the 79th minute.
The Union were not without their chances after the break. The crossbar denied Sébastien Le Toux in what was the game’s best chance in the 73rd minute and Antoine Hoppenot was denied by Robles eight minutes later.
Both teams opened up a bit more in search for a winner in the waning moments and substitute Brandon Barklage nearly found it, but his header off a corner kick from Thierry Henry went straight into the hands of MacMath to assure the game ended in a draw.
New York return to action at Chivas USA on Aug. 25, but Philadelphia host New England Revolution later that evening.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Amobi Okugo (PHI)||Big part of the reason for New York's lack of finishing. Good positioning, helped neutralize Thierry Henry.|
|2||Zac MacMath (PHI)||Three fairly routine saves, and made a big mistake coming out for a late corner, but Union's netminder is blossoming into a much more reliable backstop than he used to be.|
|3||Dax McCarty (NY)||Huge part of the reason Philly saw less than 37 percent of the possession. Careful and tidy in central mid.|