HARRISON, N.J. – Just like in 2013, the New York Red Bulls snapped out of their winless funk to start the season by beating the Philadelphia Union.
The win did not come easy, though.
A 10-man Red Bulls team picked up its much-anticipated first victory of the season on Wednesday night with a 2-1 win over the Union at Red Bull Arena. New York were up 2-0 late, but a 78th-minute red card to Ibrahim Sekagya gave Philadelphia a penalty kick that brought them back into the game.
Sekagya was sent off for denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity by referee Ricardo Salazar. The Red Bulls center back dove to a block a shot from Maurice Edu after some chaos in the penalty area, but the ball smacked off Sekagya’s flailing arm and resulted in a penalty kick that was converted by Sébastien Le Toux.
New York, however, hung on and won their first match of the season to improve to 1-2-4. The Union, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2-4 with the loss.
The two sides played to a scoreless first half in which neither was sharp in the final third, but the second stanza was a different story.
Thierry Henry opened the scoring off a good passing sequence that ended with surprise starting left midfielder Eric Alexander feeding a streaking Roy Miller, who in turn squared a ball to an unmarked Henry. The goal was the Frenchman’s second of the season.
Bradley Wright-Phillips then looked to have made it 2-0 with a header in the 61st minute, but he was correctly whistled for offside on the play.
The next New York header stood, however.
Alexander dribbled towards the goal line in the 67th minute before clipping a ball to the backpost, where substitute Tim Cahill and Lloyd Sam both were lurking. Sam somehow beat Cahill, who made his return from a hamstring injury in the 62nd, to the ball and nodded home the eventual winner with a Cahill-esque effort.
The Red Bulls looked to be cruising to a win, but then came the red card to Sekagya. A fallen Jámison Olave cleared the ball into the path of Edu following a shot that smacked off the post, and that resulted in the penalty kick and red card for Sekagya.
New York endured some nervy moments in the end, but held on strong for the full three points as the Union couldn't get a good enough chance to level the score in the game's dying minutes.
The Union face a short turnaround as they return to action on Saturday with a home game against the Houston Dynamo, who will then head north to play the Red Bulls in their next game on April 23.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eric Alexander (NY)||Was integral in setting up both of the Red Bulls' goals, and showed why he's been an underrated passer|
|2||Lloyd Sam (NY)||Played his way into the game, and proved to be too much for the Union to handle in the second half, with a headed winner to cap it off|
|3||Cristian Maidana (PHI)||If only his teammates had been able to finish chances, the Argentine may have drawn the headlines for his strong passing|