CHESTER, Pa. — What was all but certain coming in was made official on Decision Day at Talen Energy Stadium.
With a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, the New York Red Bulls wrapped up the top seed in the Eastern Conference while Philly secured their first playoff berth in five years, beating out the New England Revolution for the sixth and final spot in the East by virtue of the goal-differential tiebreaker.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the only goal of the first half, sneaking behind the Union defense, chipping it over hard-charging goalkeeper Andre Blake and depositing the ball into an open net in the 26th minute. The goal was Wright-Phillips' 24th of the season, which was enough to hold off New York City FC’s David Villa (23 goals) for his second Golden Boot in three years.
The Red Bulls, who haven’t lost since July 3, will go into the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs unbeaten in their last 16 while the Union enter a Knockout Round matchup at third-seeded Toronto FC on on a seven-game winless streak.
- 26' — NY — Bradley Wright-Phillips (Aurélien Collin)
- 57' — NY — Alex Muyl
- Full box score
- Watch highlights
- STREAKS AND SLUMPS: Nobody is entering the 2016 MLS Audi Cup hotter than the Red Bulls … and nobody is entering as cold as the Union. On Decision Day, the Red Bulls continued to look like a team nobody will want to play in the postseason, controlling the game from the opening whistle to finish with 16 wins and 57 points — fewer than only two other teams in the league. The Union, meanwhile, are still searching for answers after losing their third straight contest, including two straight at home, to back their way into the playoffs amidst boos from the home crowd.
- MILESTONE MEN: Although the Red Bulls didn’t win the Supporters’ Shield, they can hang their hat on Wright-Phillips edging Villa for the Golden Boot, thanks to a pretty first-half goal. Klejstan also finished the season on top of MLS with 19 assists, even though he wasn’t credited with one on his deflected pass that set up Muyl’s goal.
- REST FOR THE WEARY: While the Red Bulls played a mostly first-choice lineup, the Union didn’t start banged-up regulars Chris Pontius, C.J. Sapong, Tranquillo Barnetta and Brian Carroll with their Knockout Round game just a few days away. That led to teenager Eric Ayuk making his first start of the season and coming through with a couple of late scoring chances. Alejandro Bedoya also wore the captain’s armband for his first time in MLS but couldn’t help the midfield get on track and overcome the rough news that captain Maurice Edu is officially out for the season with another injury. Union head coach Jim Curtin said afterwards that Edu was set to play his first game of the year.
They Said It
“I think our group, in all ways, is ready for the next big challenge.”
— Jesse Marsch, New York Red Bulls head coach
- PHI: Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Toronto FC (ESPN2, UniMas, TSN2)
- NY: Sunday, Oct. 30 at Lower-Seeded Knockout Round Winner