CHESTER, Pa. – For the first time in 26 months, the Philadelphia Union have beaten the New York Red Bulls.
Conor Casey made sure of that.
Led by a pair of goals from Casey, the Union (7-5-4, 25pts) picked up a 3-0 win over their New York rivals Sunday at PPL Park, moving into a second-place tie with the Red Bulls (7-6-4, 25pts) in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.
Before Sunday, the Red Bulls, who played nearly 60 minutes with 10 men after an ejection to Lloyd Sam, were riding a five-game winning streak against the Union, who are now 3-6-0 all-time against New York.
FULL LINEUPS AND BOX SCORE
But with his brace, Casey – who also scored against the Red Bulls back in March – appears to be injecting new life into this once-lopsided rivalry. And in front of a sold-out crowd and an ESPN audience, Antoine Hoppenot sealed the win for Philly with an 89th-minute goal off the seventh assist of the season from Sebastien Le Toux, which puts him into the league lead.
Casey very nearly had a had trick, but after running onto a fourth-minute Jack McInerney pass, making a move around goalkeeper Luis Robles and depositing the ball into empty net, he was whistled offside and the goal was waved off.
Just three minutes later, however, Casey scored for real. The play began when a Le Toux corner kick was cleared, but the ball made it out to Sheanon Williams at the edge of the box. Williams then picked up his fourth assist of the season with a cross that found the head of a streaking Casey.
The score would remain 1-0 until halftime but not without some more first-half fireworks.
The Red Bulls had a goal of their own called back in the 36th minute when Dax McCarty was called offside after scoring on a Thierry Henry free kick.
Before that, RBNY's Robles made a brilliant one-footed kick save in the 18th minute on a wide-open McInerney, the league’s co-leading scorer.
And in the 28th minute, Sam was shown a straight red card for going studs up on Philly’s Danny Cruz, who soon after left with an injury from the play.
Losing a man was a tough blow for the Red Bulls, who were already without the services of Tim Cahill (groin), Juninho (yellow card accumulation) and Jamison Olave (red cards suspension).
But despite pouring it on, especially to start the second half, the Union struggled initially to build upon their 1-0 lead. In the 47th minute, McInerney made a nifty pass back to Casey, who was stopped by Robles. And a rebound attempt from Le Toux struck off the post.
In the 55th minute, the 10-man Red Bulls nearly tied the game after a quickly taken free kick from Henry caused commotion in the Union box. But defender Amobi Okugo slid to clear away a dangerous cross and help preserve the team’s fifth shutout of the season.
In the 64th minute, the Union finally took advantage of being up a man when Casey scored his second of the match. Following a Robles save on a Keon Daniel shot, Casey took a nice touch and fired a left-footed shot into the back of the net.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: A snapshot of Casey's magical afternoon vs. RBNY
The goals were the fourth and fifth of the season for Casey, who came out of the game to a standing ovation in the 73rd minute. Casey is now the Union’s all-time leader in goals against the Red Bulls with three – a feat he accomplished in just two games.
The Union play another nationally televised home game next Saturday when they welcome FC Dallas to PPL Park. The Red Bulls – who have now lost two straight after enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run – return home to face Houston next Sunday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Conor Casey (PHI)||It was vintage Casey vs. NY: banging bodies, relishing in back-to-goal hold-up play, scoring on a header and cleaning up a mess in front of the net.|
|2||Sebastian Le Toux (PHI)||The Frenchman has always stated he enjoys being a striker over occupying the wing. He may want to rethink his position after his electric performance vs. NY. The Union's attacking catalyst.|
|3||Jack McInerney (PHI)||A thorn in the side of the Red Bulls back line all afternoon. May have lost out on two 1-v-1 chances against Robles, but his countless runs in behind were invaluable in carving NY open.|